By Ryan Lengerich
New Mexico Secretary of Economic Development Rick Homans won the support of many Tucumcari officials Thursday when he toured the city and voiced his commitment to education in a speech to the Rotary Club.
Homans opened his morning at the convention center where he talked with a crowd he estimated at 30 people. He then visited Industrial Park, the ethanol plant and Mesalands Community College. In the afternoon he addressed state and local issues in an optimistic speech to the Rotary club.
“We have been on the bottom of so many lists,” he said. “I think things are starting to turn and there is a unity in the state that I am starting to feel in the communities as well, and it is time to roll up our sleeves and make things happen.”
City Manager Richard Primrose said Homans is capable of executing his plan.
“He really does seem like he is concerned about New Mexico and rural New Mexico,” Primrose said.
Homans addressed the success he believes New Mexico has had creating new jobs. But much of the talk focused on the integration of education and economic success at the state level.
“As I go with the governor and talk with CEO’s of companies about looking at New Mexico, I can rattle off incentives,” Homans said. “But when I say that we just gave our teachers a six percent raise to the CEO’s across this country that says volumes about the priorities in New Mexico.”
Homans said businesses want to know the state is making a commitment to children from kindergarten through high school. He said the community college system is crucial to city development throughout the state.
“What businesses want more than anything else is a trained work force,” he said.
Homans pledged his support to Tucumcari, a city he said has multiple resources including a railroad system, health care, community college, climate and natural environment.
“In Tucumcari what I see here is all the assets that can be brought together for some very real success over the next three years,” Homans said.
Tucumcari Commissioner Betty Ditto said everyone in the city should be encouraged following Homans’ visit.
“I thought it was tremendous, it just invigorated me to want to go forward,” Ditto said. “I thought every item he mentioned for the growth of the business we now have — I don’t think any economic development has pushed that and we need it.”
Region 4 Economic Development representative Frank Griego oversees Quay County and escorted Homans throughout eastern New Mexico and into Tucumcari. Primrose said the communication lines between he and Griego are wide open.
“Before Frank Griego got on board, I didn’t know who our economic development representative was,” Primrose said. “I can call him or he can call me anytime there is a problem and take care of it.”
Despite Tucumcari’s assets and willingness to go forward, Homans said it’s important that citizens, city officials and the state work together.
“Everybody has to be behind that effort,” he said. “The worst thing that we can do is step out and then break into factions, be divided and to have one side shooting at the other.”