By TV Hagenah
Tucumcari has a new economic development director and he has big plans for the community.
Executive Director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation Ben Kendrick has moved into his office in “C” building of Mesalands Community College where he hopes to be directing the development future of Tucumcari for the next few years.
Most recently the Air Force Reserve, the Lieutenant Colonel comes from Guymon, Okla., where he was responsible for much the same activities as he will be in charge of in Tucumcari, putting the community on a more successful economic track.
“I’m very excited about being in Tucumcari,” said Kendrick. “I feel there are so many things I can contribute to the community.”
He said he sees his responsibilities as a major challenge but one that he relishes.
“I enjoy thinking outside the box in order to get things done,” said Kendrick.
Kendrick said one of the initial problems he has perceived in the area in regard to economic development is a lack of a unified and clearly coordinated movement in that area towards a specific point.
“No one is taking the lead in economic development,” said the former TCU basketball player. “I see it as my mission to step in and stem that situation. ‘Jobs’ is the operative word. This community sorely needs solid manufacturing jobs.”
In addition, Kendrick said that the community also needed some quality lower and lower middle class housing which can, in conjunction with possible jobs, help draw people to the area to work.
“It’s all a work-force issue,” said Kendrick.
The new economic development head also said he plans on “plugging himself into” different state agencies that have not been tapped for funds and support in the past by Tucumcari.
He said that because of his experience working for the State of Oklahoma before taking over as the economic development head in Guymon, he has a familiarity with state bureaucracies that others might not have and has experience securing state and federal funds.
“Hopefully, I will be reaping the benefits (of his experience),” said Kendrick.
There are a number of areas that he sees himself focusing on, Kendrick said.
They include: developing new housing, expanding the airport, finding industry that will match up with the area and developing more of a stress on alternative fuels.
He said a more definitive plan will emerge when he is able to sit down with community leaders and interested parties and discover “where the community wants to be in two to five years.”
Tucumcari City Commissioner Betty Ditto said she and most other members of the commission are very excited about Kendrick’s arrival.
“Really,” said Ditto, “I have great expectation of what will happen because of this man.”
In addition to his other activities, Kendrick played professional basketball in both Uruguay and Argentina.