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EDC reviews good year at annual meeting

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Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., speaking during the group’s annual meeting Wednesday, said business retention is as important to the group as business recruitment. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The local economic development group for the city of Roswell and Chaves County had a profitable year, assisted 114 businesses with pandemic funding requests and helped local businesses receive almost $1 million in funding to hire and train more employees.

The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. reviewed its 2019-20 fiscal year Wednesday during its annual membership meeting, with a few people meeting at its downtown Main Street offices and several others joining online.

The organization, which now has 121 members, is the primary commercial and industrial business recruiter and developer for the area, although it also has sought to support retail businesses during the pandemic.

“It is all about collaboration,” said Mike Espiritu, president of the RCCEDC. “It is about working together as people for the good of our region and cultivating the opportunity to create jobs. That is our vision, creating jobs.”

Typically the organization holds its annual membership meeting each June, when it elects new officers. The pandemic and restrictions about gatherings delayed the meeting, although new officers had been named earlier.

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The officers are Christopher Palmer, president of Pioneer Bank, as chairman; Kurt Gass, a Roswell mortgage broker, as vice chair; Steve Dodson, a manager with the family-owned business of Dodson Wholesale Lumber Co. Inc., as treasurer; Leah Boone, membership services supervisor with Central Valley Electric Cooperative Inc., as secretary; and Bud Kunkel, a professional appraiser, as past chairman.

A review of the EDC financial reports, which were approved by members, indicated a better position than expected.

“It was a good year,” said Dodson. “If this were a business, this is what you would want to see. Expenses are down and income is up.”

The audited financial documents show that current assets increased 18.7%, from $264,206 on June 30, 2019, to $313,557 by the end of June 2020. Total assets were up $36,465, or 8.2%, to end fiscal year 2020 at $480,730.

Dodson said the EDC had budgeted for a $50,000 shortfall for the fiscal year because of the pandemic, but instead ended the year with $21,093 as operating profit. Net profit totaled $53,817 after interest, investment gains, dividend income and a $25,000 housing incentive grant from Chaves County were added to the operating profit.

In addition to the county housing grant, the year’s profit was attributed to an additional $25,000 in operating funds from Chaves County; reduced expenses, payroll and business recruitment activity of about $44,000 due to the pandemic; and the receipt of a $28,956 Payroll Protection Program loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, a program that was created and funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Dodson said that the EDC expects that it will meet the necessary requirements to have the loan converted into a grant.

Espiritu and Program Manager Melissa Juarez also talked about the year’s activities.

They said that the group had assisted 114 businesses in filing applications for CARES relief funding through the city and county. The state of New Mexico is reviewing city and county applications to determine how much funding it will provide, if any. Decisions are expected soon.

The group also worked with four area businesses to assist them in obtaining Job Training Incentive Program funds from the state to pay for hiring new employees. The businesses received almost $1 million to hire and train up to 99 more employees.

The EDC helped two new downtown businesses obtain $10,000 “facade” grants to improve the exterior of their buildings. Staff also coordinated the “Shop Local” campaign in cooperation with the Roswell Chamber of Commerce to assist locally owned businesses during pandemic-related business restrictions. They visited or had discussions with 62 businesses and 51 restaurants.

Other activities included several ongoing business recruitment and business retention projects; advocacy for legislation that would help the region; updates to the EDC website and logo; workforce training and development efforts; projects to develop affordable housing in the area, including participating in a consortium with other counties; and the development of a commercial and industrial properties inventory to provide information to prospective new businesses.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.