Proposed chamber center hinges of outside state, federal funding

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

Officials of the Clovis/ Curry County Chamber of Commerce and Clovis Industrial Development Corp. are working to secure roughly $1.5 million to fund a new business enterprise center in Clovis.

A grant was submitted to the federal Economic Development Administration asking for roughly $1 million for the project, money that would be combined with current funds and cash that may be approved by the state Legislature to build the center sometime next year.

“We are hoping we will hear soon if we will or will not be accepted on the (grant),” said Ernie Kos, executive director of the chamber of commerce.

The center would house all the resources needed to start a successful business, she said. It will also be an aesthetic improvement over the chamber’s current offices, which is also home to Clovis Downtown Revitalization and Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

“For a lot of the people we’ve worked with, the prospects and the movie people, our office is the first place they go,” Kos said. “It’s the front door to the community, and it’s not big enough or nice enough to showcase Clovis.”
The chamber has asked the state Legislature to treat this as a capital outlay project and allocate funds for it during the upcoming session.

Other sources of cash may include private investors in the community, said Chase Gentry, director of Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

“(The EDA grant) was not rejected, which is a good sign,” Gentry said. “They are waiting on reallocation of federal dollars, and a lot of that will not happen until after the election. We’re hoping we hear something back on that by the end of the year.”

Kos said the chamber has already set money aside for this project, but without the federal grant or money from the state, the scope of the project would have to be decreased substantially.

“We’ve got way too much going on in that little office,” she said. “If we aren’t successful in getting more money, we might have to settle for (remodeling the current office). The best way to showcase Clovis to outside visitors and prospects is to have a first-class enterprise center.”

Her vision includes a place for business incubation, a current movement in the business world that helps fledgling companies.

There is no projected date for beginning the project and no location has been selected, Kos said. Much of the timing will depend on when the federal agency and the state Legislature come back with an answer, though she said they plan to pursue an aggressive timeline once funding decisions are made.