The vision and determination of a legendary economic development director live on in Chase Gentry, officials said Thursday.
Gentry, who was given his first economic development job by Portales development executive R. Dallan Sanders, became the third person to receive an annual award named in Sanders’ honor Thursday.
The Clovis Industrial Development Corporation executive director was honored with the Rural Forum’s R. Dallan Sanders economic developer of the year award at the Governor’s Summit on Economic Development in Santa Fe.
“It always feels good when people think you’re doing a good job,” Gentry said. “It means you have to work that much harder.”
The CIDC also was honored at the meeting, with the “Target Industry/Client Proposal Award” for the proposal made to the Ireland-based cheese company Glanbia to bring a cheese-making plant to Curry County.
Thursday’s awards are the third and fourth that Clovis/Curry County economic development entities have received in the last year. The Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and chamber Executive Director Ernie Kos were notified in February they had received the 2002 New Mexico Chamber of the Year and the 2002 New Mexico Chamber Director of the Year awards.
The R. Dallan Sanders award is the most prestigious award a New Mexico economic development director can receive, Kos said Thursday night.
She called Sanders, who died in September 1999, “a legendary economic development director.”
“Dallan was progressive; he thought outside the box; and he had a vision, not only for Portales, but for the two-county area. Chase was his protege and those qualities have carried over to him,” she said.
“Anybody who knew Dallan remembers his passion and his dedication to the Portales/Clovis area,” Gentry said.
News-Journal publisher Ray Sullivan, who attended the summit, said Gentry received the award for a body of work.
Gentry began working for Sanders at the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce in 1992. When Sanders took over the area’s community development corporation in 1993, Gentry became the chamber’s executive director, then took on both the community development and the chamber executive roles in 1998.
As the CIDC’s executive director, he played a major role in bringing in New Mexico Processing Inc., which brought 50 jobs to Curry County; he encouraged the $15 million, 80-job expansion of Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s Clovis yard; and helped lure the $198 million Glanbia facility, with its 700 construction jobs and 205 permanent ones, Sullivan said.
In Portales, Gentry helped reopen a plant that became High Plains Ethanol, now Abengoa. He worked with the Dairy Farmers of America on a milk plant expansion. Lately, he has been instrumental in the opening of a new business development center on Portales’ town square, Sullivan said.
Noting that Sanders’ widow, Mickey Sanders, traveled from Portales to present Thursday’s award to Gentry, Kos said, “I would say there’s no question Dallan is smiling down on us. Clovis is very fortunate to have Chase as its economic development director and I feel fortunate to work with him.”