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EDC reports ‘unprecedented’ membership growth

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Mike Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., says he and his staff worked hard to help existing business survive and grow last year. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. had a strong financial showing for the 2020-21 fiscal year, with memberships and profits well above projections.

The group released some of its financial information during its annual meeting held Wednesday on the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell campus.

According to the published information, the local economic development agency had revenues of $355,904, which included $150,000 in funding from Chaves County, $96,000 from the city of Roswell and $105,380 from business members.

Mike Espiritu, president of the Economic Development Corp., said that the group had added 32 members during the 2020-21 fiscal year. The total is now at 151, according to the published list of members.

Espiritu also said that some existing members chose to pay higher fees this year to support the group.

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“Growth of membership is attributed to an increased awareness of what the EDC is and can do for local business,” Espiritu said, adding that he thinks the businesses choose to partner with the group to make Roswell and the county a more “vibrant” place for existing and new businesses.

RCCEDC Board Chair Christopher Palmer called it an “unprecedented” growth in membership for the organization.

“The EDC used to be almost entirely reliant on the city for our funding,” Palmer said. “This last year and this coming year, the county doubled down on their commitment to us, which made them our largest supporter. But now collectively business is the second largest supporter of the EDC. I think that is unprecedented as well. I hope that continues because you can see the good we do with what little money we have.”

In part helped by the business membership fees as well as by keeping expenses low, the group had operating profits of $46,390, while it had only projected $98 in profit for the year. Total profit, including money received from grants, interest and investments, was $63,692.

Information from last year’s annual meeting indicated that the group had 2019-20 operating profit of $21,093 and total profit of $53,817.

Espiritu added that his group has focused on business retention and expansion efforts.

“Our expanded and heightened Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program to contact local companies nearly every day is an important priority for the EDC,” he said. “It’s been a difficult year, and our goal is to assist and provide local businesses who have already invested and created jobs. We need to be their partner for their success. It is our hope they stay in business, and possibly grow and expand, all to keep and create jobs for the local citizens.”

According to the EDC report, the organization visited 815 local businesses during the year to determine what assistance EDC could provide.

Other accomplishments listed included helping four area companies obtain state Job Training Incentive Program funding of $683,802, which is expected to create 65 new jobs; working on the expansion of Arizona-based Ascent Aviation Services to the Roswell Air Center, a development that is intended to create more than 300 jobs over five years; assisting the owners of the Spring River Apartment Homes with the second phase of development, which will add 112 units to the North Sycamore Avenue complex; holding a job fair in May for private and government employers; working with the city and county to process about $1.62 million in small business assistance grants funded by federal coronavirus relief money; and administering a facade improvement grant program that has helped area businesses improve their building exteriors.

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