Rural economic development conference to be held here next week

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The village of Los Lunas will host the state's premier economic development conference next week.

The 2013 Rural Forum will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 6, through Thursday, Aug. 8, at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus.

"It's the top economic development conference in the state each year," said Jim Glover, a village consultant. "The purpose is to discuss best practices, and creating sustainable communities."

The forum is sponsored by the village of Los Lunas, UNM-Valencia Campus, America's Small Business Development Center-New Mexico and others.

"Put a Tiger in Your Tank, Practical Tools to Energize Your Economy" is this year's theme.

"That whole idea came from the water tank out by the freeway with the big tiger on it, and the old Exxon commercial," Glover said. "That has become the logo for the event."

It is estimated that more than 100 economic development specialists from around the state will participate in the three-day conference. There will be an exhibit hall for any county business that would like to give presentations about their business to the visiting community leaders.

"If they have services that lend itself to any community, that's who should be exhibiting there," Glover said, "Prices are as little as $75 (a booth) on up, and it's still not too late to sign up as an exhibitor."

The conference is open to anyone interested in rural economies, and costs $200 for the entire three-day forum. Students of economics, practitioners of economic development and local city officials will be among the attendees, Glover said.

There will be two special speakers on Wednesday, including Ed Burghard, CEO of the Burghard Group, who will give the keynote speech at 8:15 a.m.

The creator of Strengthening Brand America will discuss the American Dream Composite Index, which measures sentiment about the American Dream.

"It was a study done by Xavier University as to how people within a state believe they have the ability to pursue the American Dream," Glover said. "And for the first time in a long time, New Mexico was ranked number two (on the index). So, the people in this state believe that the ability to achieve the American Dream is very possible."

Burghard will discuss how communities should help shape the ability to pursue the American Dream.

Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela with the New Mexico Economic Development Department will give an update at 11 a.m. on the state's latest economic activities and successes.

The Mayor's Forum will take place from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursday. It is an opportunity to watch mayors discuss what it takes to govern a rural community.

Robert Vialpando and Rudy Jaramillo, the mayors of Los Lunas and Belen, will be on the panel. Mayors from around the state will discuss economic issues in their communities, the challenges and successes as well as what's working and what's not working.

There are nine working sessions which include Wednesday afternoon topics on how to bring Hollywood to your community — what communities can do to prepare for the film industry — and how to work with veteran-owned businesses to help them find state and federal funding and other resources available for them.

Later that afternoon there will be sessions on how to produce an event that showcase a community and how to engage Native American tribes to work together on mutually beneficial enterprises.

After breakfast on Thursday, there will be a session at 8 a.m. on how to attract retailers to a community.

Ralph Mims, the Los Lunas economic development manager, will be the mediator for the "Wine, Whine and Refine," group discussion on community issues and solutions from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Isleta Resort and Casino.

The Rural Forum culminates in the EDDY awards for economic achievements in marketing and social media campaign.

For more information, call Ralph Mims at 839-5654 or, for a copy of the Rural Forum agenda or to get a copy of the exhibitor form and to register online, go to www.nmrural.org.


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