Proposed business center unveiled

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

A preliminary plan for a Business Enterprise Center was presented Thursday at the Clovis City Commission meeting. The project includes two museums, computer labs and a business help center.

“With all of the growth we have experienced, with all the people who might want to start their own business, that might be the place for them to go for ideas,” Commissioner Juan Garza Sr. said after the meeting.

Funding for the center would come from capital outlay dollars appropriated by the state Legislature, assuming Gov. Bill Richardson approves them as expected.

The plans include the possible purchase of the Wells Fargo Bank on Main Street, which would provide about 30,000 square feet of space for the center.

The multi-function center would include meeting rooms, a Norman Petty Museum with artifacts from the music studio, a Clovis/Curry County Museum, a business accelerator or incubator to help fledgling businesses get a start by providing inexpensive office space and other support services, classrooms that could be used in conjunction with area colleges and computer labs.

Garza said the Norman Petty Museum would attract tourists to a unique part of Clovis’ history — the recording studio that hosted music legends Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings and others.

“Almost everywhere you go they have some type of museum,” he said. “If you are a visitor to the area you are going to go check it out.”

Chase Gentry, executive director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corp., said in his presentation to the commission that the facility could begin to add a “tourist feel” to Main Street and would be a good front door to the community.

“One of the greatest things is the opportunity to have a museum and highlight the history of the area” at the time of the city’s centennial celebration in 2007, Gentry said. He added that the Enterprise Center would tie in nicely with efforts to revitalize downtown.

Gentry laid out an aggressive timeline for completion of the project. He said the purchase, renovation and equipping of the building will begin in August and the grand opening should occur by November. The building, Gentry said, was renovated in 1996, so the actual work to renovate it shouldn’t take long.

If the capital outlay funds come through, the CIDC and chamber will have about $1.5 million from the Legislature and other sources, Gentry said.

Gentry presented the Enterprise Center plans as the Commission considered adopting a lease agreement between the city, the CIDC and the Chamber.

Because the capital outlay funds are tentatively appropriated to Clovis, plans call for the city to purchase the bank building and lease it back to the CIDC and Chamber.

Besides that, the center would require no funds from the city to implement, City Manager Joe Thomas said after the meeting, and the city would have no liability or obligation.

The Commission passed the measure to adopt the lease agreement, which will only go into effect if the city acquires a property for the center.

In other business:
• Mayor David Lansford presented a short update on the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority’s pipeline project, stating the lake level at Ute Lake near Logan is rising and the quality of the water is good. He also said some moves by the state Legislature may have “diluted” some funds for the project.