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The rotunda in the State Capitol was abuzz with activity Tuesday morning as representatives from a handful of northern New Mexico counties gathered to accept awards for their partnership in the Regional Economic Development Initiative.
Representatives present to accept the awards on behalf of their counties were: Los Alamos County Council Chair Michael Wheeler; Santa Fe Mayor David Coss; Rio Arriba County Manager Lorenzo Valdez, Española Mayor Joseph Maestas; Cathy Connelly of Taos; and Duncan Sill, who accepted the award on behalf of the county of Santa Fe.
The ceremony kicked off with a short welcome and introductions by Rep. Jeanette Wallace, followed by the “REDI for Action” proclamation.
However, a couple of Democratic representatives were no-shows at the ceremony.
Rep. Nick Salazar was supposed to join Wallace in the welcome and introductions, but when he didn’t make an appearance, Wallace went about the task solo.
Also, House Speaker Ben Lujan was slated to read the proclamation, but instead, the task fell on Rep. Jim Trujillo.
As each representative stepped up to the podium to accept their award, they each gave a brief statement. Coss was the first to accept his award.
“This is a good regional plan, but we need to work on an economic plan now, harder than ever,” he said before he accepted his award.
Maestas said Tuesday was a very important day for the region.
“Los Alamos County has shown great leadership … this is not going to be a study that stays on the shelf and gathers dust, right? It’s incumbent on all of us to diversify our economy,” he commented.
When Wheeler stepped up to the podium he said, “We’ve already seen great benefits. We expect that things will be improving as we go along.”
County Councilors Nona Bowman, Robert Gibson, Ralph Phelps and Sharon Stover all attended the festivities, as well.
After the ceremony Stover said that she felt the REDI program was a good initiative.
“I hope that we can improve the initiatives. It’s great that the regional communities are working together,” she commented.
Bowman concurred with Stover when she said, “I think this is a great opportunity for the region to go forward together. I look forward to issues we come up with so we can make Northern New Mexico the region we want it to be.”
Newly appointed councilor Ralph Phelps commented that he was still coming up to speed on some of the county’s issues, but said that he thought it was great that Los Alamos has the ability to kick off a program like REDI and he looks forward to working with Los Alamos County’s neighbors.
Following the ceremony, Wheeler said, “This really is a great first step in regional economic development. Our next step is to implement our proposals.”
Los Alamos County founded the REDI program in March 2007 in partnership with communities and counties in Northern New Mexico, which include Rio Arriba, the City of Española, Santa Fe County, the City of Santa Fe, Taos County and the Town of Taos.
The program is a product of Progress Through Partnering and is charged with identifying issues and projects that directly impact communities within the northern New Mexico region and is currently focused on regional transportation, regional planning, economic development and support for providing indigent health care.