Chamber of commerce seeking grant for bigger, better building

By Eric Butler: CNJ CORRESPONDENT

If the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce gets its way, a future ribbon cutting will be for its own move into a bigger building.

The chamber is seeking a $900,000 economic development grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to establish a Business Enterprise Center.

Such a center would serve as a one-stop resource area for businesses as well as housing the Chamber, the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation (CIDC) and the Clovis Downtown Revitalization Program.

Those three entities are currently located at 215 N. Main.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a recent news release he is supporting the proposed grant. The funds “would be used to purchase and equip a three-story building to serve as a business accelerator and incubation center,” he said in the release.

Chase Gentry, CIDC executive director, declined to specify which three-story building is being considered for the project. He said the site is just the first of three options under consideration.

“The goal is that you can walk into this facility and we can meet your needs or get people together to meet your needs at a one-stop location for business development,” Gentry said.

“Let’s say you need a city business license. We would have it and the people who know how to fill it out.”

Gentry said the building might also be available to actually house certain small, start-up businesses — ones that have been accepted for occupancy by a committee after an analysis of a variety of criteria has been made.

That aspect of the proposed Business Enterprise Center is just one component of the “incubator” idea being utilized in trying to gain the grant.

“In the building itself, we’re looking at start-up businesses or businesses who are in the process of relocating that need a place to have an office out of,” Gentry said. “We could have unified services such as a receptionist, a phone system, high-speed (Internet) access.”

Ernie Kos, executive directory for the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce, said the project has already been designated as the recipient of $275,000 from the 2004 New Mexico State Legislature. The proposed Business Enterprise Center in Clovis is estimated to cost $1.2 million.

A similar enterprise center in Portales, which Gentry helped initiate while he was employed with the Portales-Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, is set to begin operations by the end of June.