Economic group lands federal monies; Grant to fund creation of regional development strategy

The regional economic development organization that includes Colfax County has been awarded a federal grant to develop an economic development strategy for the entity’s seven-county region.

The North Central New Mexico Economic Development District will receive $180,000 through the federal Economic Development Administration to “assist with efforts to increase private capital investments and job creation in the region,” according to information from northern New Mexico U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

The district’s executive director, Tim Armer, told The Range Friday that the primary purpose of the money is to develop the region’s economic development strategic plan. He indicated the work would be done during the three-year cycle of the disbursement of the grant funds.

The district is made up of Colfax, Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Taos counties.

The process to create a strategy for regional economic development is designed to “bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen the regional economy,” according to Luján.

Armer added the economic plan will include “issues and initiatives that are of importance to Colfax County.”

He described Colfax County as regularly providing “very good participation” on the district’s board of directors. He said the county’s representatives — County Commissioner Landon Newton, Raton City Commissioner Sandy Mantz, former Raton mayor Fred Sparks and former Cimarron mayor Mary Alice Tracy-Boyce — do well in representing the “interests of Colfax County.”

“A comprehensive strategy to promote economic growth is essential in the effort to attract businesses that can create jobs in the private sector,” Luján said of the work that will be funded by the grant. “These important federal funds will assist the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District in its ongoing efforts to support our communities and lay the foundation for a stronger economy and a brighter future in northern New Mexico.”

The grant award comes as Colfax County officials and representatives of local community organizations continue to work as part of a couple other groups seeking to develop better regional economic efforts. Those groups are the North Eastern Economic Development Organization that consists of seven northeast New Mexico counties and the Raton Basin Regional Economic Development District that consist of Colfax County partnering with Las Animas and Huerfano counties in Colorado.

Each of those groups was formed under the Stronger Economies Together program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The federal government has been encouraging regional economic development in hopes that federal dollars awarded for economic development efforts will be used more efficiently.