Keys to Tucumcari’s economic development success are community collaboration and engaging the youth, said a leadership and economic development consultant.
Fifty local residents attended a town hall meeting Wednesday led by Malin Wall, founder and director of the Nebraska-based Heartland Center for Leadership Development.
“There are many well intentioned groups and people doing things in Tucumcari,” Wall said.
However, Wall said those groups and people are not all pulling in the same direction.
“People are trying to make things happen but their work efforts are splintered,” Wall said. “You need to work together in a shared vision and goal.”
Wall said that the community needed to focus on a project they alone have the final say and approval over. A project that will lift the spirits of the residents.
“This community needs a win,” Wall said. “A lot of effort and support went into the Racino, but in the end the decision was not yours. Focus on what you can control.”
Engaging the youth in Tucumcari’s development and future is another Wall recommendation.
“Many communities are saying that their youth are leaving and not returning,” Wall said. “If you get the youth involved in the towns development, you give them a stake and say about their home town.”
Wall said many times the youth they speak to say there are no opportunities for them. He said by encouraging youth to step up in leadership roles and encouraging entrepreneurship, youth may stay.
“The youth’s involvement will help to create new leaders for your community,” Wall said. “Every small community has too few leaders pulling the load.”
Wall said that Tucumcari needs to focus on developing the youth into the future leaders of the community.
After Walls presentation the audience gathered into focus groups.
These groups were asked to come up with three short term projects that will help the community engage the youth and strengthen leadership.
The groups agreed youth needed to be given a say in the community’s development. One suggestion was to incorporate a youth member to local government bodies.
“If we expose the youth to leadership early then they will not have such a hard time stepping into the role,” said state Rep. Dennis Roch.
Tucumcari City Manager Bobbye Rose said she would recommend a youth member to the City Commission at their next meeting.
“Youth participation is very important,” Rose said. “Without our youth we have nothing, they are our future.”
Before the groups adjourned Wall challenged all to follow through with their youth and leadership ideas.
“I apologize in advance if this is wrong,” Wall said. “It seems that this community has a reputation of getting people together developing great ideas and never following through on them.”
Wall challenged the groups to change that reputation.
“We as a community need to develop the habit of taking the next step,” said Carl Kallansrud, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mesalands.
Heartland Center generated information presented at the town hall meeting from an online survey, 21 interviews with local residents and a driving tour of Tucumcari.
A final report and the center’s complete recommendation for Tucumcari’s economic development will be presented later to Kallansrud.
“Tucumcari has many great assets in the community,” Wall said. ” Success is possible when those assets are combined with Tucumcari’s friendly population.”