Belen tries new group to improve economy

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Belen City Councilors gave the go ahead in creating a second association aimed at boosting businesses in the Hub City.

The Belen Economic Development Association, an independent nonprofit, will assist the city in fostering economic growth.

Councilors approved a resolution recognizing and endorsing the formation of the association during a June meeting.

"The council finds it desirable to bring together citizens with a common interest in economic development in order to explore methods by which the city can assist in promoting and creating new economic development and to advise the council thereon," the resolution states.

The association's formation occurred after councilors changed the city's advisory group for economic growth from the Greater Belen Economic Development Corporation to any nonprofit economic development organization recognized by the city.

This recommending body recruits "new sustainable base jobs and to increase private-sector investment in the greater Belen area of New Mexico."

They are also a requirement outlined in the city's economic development plan.

Before these changes, the city could only accept economic growth suggestions from the GBEDC, said city's economic development director, Steve Tomita. Now, both entities can serve as advisory groups to the city.

"The two associations can work together for the betterment of Belen and promotion of Belen," Tomita said. "I believe members of the Greater Belen Economic Development Corporation could be dues-paying members."

However, the corporation's president, David Blacher, said they must be invited to work with the city on a project-by-project basis. He said his group has extended its hand to city officials a number of times on enhancement ideas to buildup the number of businesses, but it has not received any response.

"We don't have staffing, but we can contribute financially to the development of a project," Blacher said. "We are not in the position where we can force ourselves on them, but we can't simply do things without first specifically, as I understand it, being requested by the city. To date, they have not chosen anything for us to do."

Tomita, who will head the new association, reminded councilors the reason behind the its formation was for the city to have more input in attracting businesses to Belen.

"The key behind this is that it allows the city to participate by having the economic development director involved to be able to contribute towards projects," he said.

The association will be led by the city's economic development director as executive director, who "shall receive such compensation, if any, as may be determined by the board," the association's bylaws state.

Mayor Rudy Jaramillo will appoint the association's three founding members. They will then elect the remaining directors for one-year terms. The city council will consider appointing members at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. today.

Members are required to pay annual membership fees and meet annually.

The new committee plans to track retention-expansion through a program; develop a community profile, land and building inventory, a marketing plan and a long-term economic development plan; and determine market needs and opportunities; commercial and industrial capabilities and needs and access telecommunication advances needed to attract and serve future businesses, according to their duties and responsibilities statement.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.