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New Mexico State University

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Rural Economic Development Forum Offers Solutions to Puzzling Topic

LAS CRUCES -- In economic development work, finding the right fit between businesses and New Mexico's small towns can be a puzzling task.

The New Mexico Rural Economic Development Forum, Oct. 21-23 at the Roswell Convention Center, will offer strategies for creating jobs, generating income and increasing the tax base. The theme for this year's forum is "Solving the Puzzle."

"Rural economic development is quite complex, it's a very intricate process and it's very puzzling to most people," said Bob Coppedge, forum chair and economic development specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

"What we want to do is talk about the six basic elements of the puzzle and try to help New Mexico's community leaders, business leaders and public officials see what goes into conducting a good economic development program in a small community."

Those six elements are incentives, impact analysis, growth issues, environmental considerations, leadership and housing.

"One of the major issues has to do with incentives, what you can afford to give a business you are trying to bring into town," Coppedge said. "Impact analysis looks at the costs and benefits, such as whether it's worth offering a tax abatement in return for new jobs."

Growth issues include planning, zoning, land use and local attitudes toward development.

A more complex economy and growing concern about impacts on the environment are examples of environmental considerations, Coppedge said.

"And, without leadership, economic development is not going to succeed anywhere," he said. "You must have strong leaders, leaders who can bring people together."

A final consideration is housing availability, a major concern in small communities facing economic growth, he said.

"This program is designed for the person who is new to economic development, volunteers in the community who are doing economic development work and public officials from cities, counties or regional groups," Coppedge said. "We also want to have business leaders involved because they set the tone for economic development in the smaller communities."

Conference sessions begin at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21 and end at noon Oct. 23. Programs are at the Roswell Convention Center. The host hotel is the Best Western Sally Port Inn.

Registration, which includes all meals, is $125 before Oct. 1 and $145 thereafter. For registration information, call Coppedge at (505) 646-4122.

Major sponsors include Extension, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), the New Mexico Small Business Development Center, state Economic Development Department, Southwestern Public Service Company and Plains Electric.

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in these meetings, please call the contact person for the event two weeks in advance.