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A new economic development group has come to Valencia County. The Middle Rio Grande Economic Team consists of, from left, Audra Salazar, vice president; Mark Podeyn, president; and Wendy Wallace, vice president. The team will focus its efforts on small municipalities and rural communities in the county.

BOSQUE FARMS — A new nonprofit is beginning the task of making small municipalities and rural areas of Valencia County more economically viable. 

The Middle Rio Grande Economic Team, which has obtained its 501c3 status from the IRS, will focus on communities that haven’t seen economic boons in recent years, starting in the north of the county with the village of Bosque Farms and town of Peralta.

“Los Lunas is doing great, and Ralph Mims (village economic development director) has been a huge amount of help,” said MRGET president Mark Podeyn. “That’s why we fell on the idea of these communities, like Bosque Farms and Peralta, Tomé and Jarales. They need representation, too.”

Podeyn was quick to add that every community had its own vision of what was the right kind of economic development, saying the team was not looking to imitate Los Lunas everywhere.

“It’s been several years ago, but there was a survey done in Bosque Farms about what people wanted and didn’t want. They definitely didn’t want all sidewalks, curbs and street lights,” he said. “They want unique, niche, destination businesses.”

Those community wants fit MRGET’s purpose, which is to “sensibly grow commerce” to provide a better quality of life for residents.

Podeyn, the owner of Action RV, which has been in Bosque Farms since 2011, and vice presidents Audra Salazar and Wendy Wallace, say such growth will benefit not just Bosque Farms and Peralta, but all the communities in the county.

Salazar, a realtor with Q Realty for three years, said living and doing business in the county is what motivated her to be involved.

A realtor for 12 years and owner of Wallace Group-KW Realty, Wallace said they want to see all communities grow and thrive.

The team is hoping to take advantage of the growth of Los Lunas and leverage that for other communities.

“As a nonprofit, we now have access to private, state and federal funds to accomplish some really great things for the residents through careful commercial development,” Podeyn said.

MRGET’s mission is to seek out those resources to help recruit and provide assistance to businesses that will benefit the local economy and at the same time maintain a quality rural lifestyle for the residents.

Salazar has begun meeting with local landowners and business owners interested in coming to the county to build connections.

“We want to show what we have available here,” she said. “We don’t want just a lot of restaurants. We really want to be a destination for people, with things they can visit and do like the dairy and honey farm.”

In addition to drawing new business to the area, Podeyn said the team wants to work closely with existing businesses.

“I’d love to consult with them about things like business best practices,” he said. “We also want to help them connect with programs that are out there. There are a lot of government programs businesses aren’t going after, like the (job training incentive program). A lot of small businesses might not be aware of these programs or think they are too small to qualify. They aren’t.”

MRGET is currently comprised of three officers that are in the process of creating and assembling two committees — one to generate funds and a second committee that will promote municipalities for commercial development and business recruitment.

For information about MRGET, email mrget.org@gmail.com. The website — mrget.org — is under construction, Podeyn said.

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