Rep Tom Udall, D-N.M. (center) walks down Main Street in Clovis during a Monday visit. Udall congratulated area officials on landing the Glanbia cheese plant. Photo by Rick White.
By Jack King
On a visit to Curry County some years ago, U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., watched in amazement as a local dairyman loaded containers of milk into a truck for shipment to Oklahoma City.
“When I asked him about it, he explained that was where the market was. Clearly, now we’ve brought the market here,” the congressman told a City Hall audience Monday of the soon-to-be-built Glanbia Foods Inc. cheese plant south of Clovis.
On a whirlwind tour of the Clovis area, Udall stopped at City Hall to congratulate area officials on bringing the $200 million cheese plant — estimated to provide 205 jobs — to the area.
“Glanbia,” he predicted, “will spur a huge amount of economic development, and the microplex designation for Clovis-Portales, Curry County-Roosevelt County means a lot, too.” he said.
Welcoming Udall to Clovis, Mayor David Lansford congratulated Chase Gentry, executive director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corp., Ernie Kos, director of the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce, Gene Hendrick, a CIDC/Chamber of Commerce volunteer and City Manager Ray Mondragon for their tenacity in pursing the cheese plant.
Also in attendance was Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega, who said he was delighted to have the microplex’s economy growing in a positive direction. In Roosevelt County much of that positive growth has been fueled by small business, as well as the recent expansion of Dairy Concepts and Abengoa Bio-Energy, an ethanol-products developer, he said.
From City Hall, Udall headed to Cannon Air Force Base, where he met with the men and women of the 27th Fighter Wing who have recently returned from Iraq and talked with the wing’s new vice commander Col. Jeffrey Stambaugh, said spokesman Glen Loveland.
A ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business, Udall visited several businesses on a walking tour of downtown Clovis conducted by the Clovis Downtown Revitalization Program.
“What’s the secret of a revitalized downtown?” he asked Paul Tankersley, owner of Tankersley’s clothing store, which has been located on Main Street for more than decades.
“Traffic,” Tankersley replied. “A good arrangement of retail stores. We’ve never been afraid of competition. So long as there are enough shoppers, we’ll get our share.”
CDRP President Zala Smith said the group hoped to make Udall more aware of the needs of downtown Clovis.
“We wanted him to see our infrastructure, our level of business activity and our potential for more business,” she said.
Udall also held a Town Hall meeting in Portales Monday evening.