FARMINGTON – The fourth annual New Mexico Foreign Economy Conference kicked off Wednesday night at the Farmington Civic Center.
The conference has added a trade show component to its panel discussions since it was held in Silver City in 2019, and about a dozen businesses and nonprofits have booths and product displays set up inside and outside the Civic Center during the three-day event.
Ruidoso Parks Supervisor David “TBone” Tetreault was hanging out around the San Juan Basin Disc Golf Club tent Wednesday evening, watching conference attendees throw discs at two baskets set up on a patch of lawn.
There are two disc golf courses in Farmington and two other courses in the vicinity of Aztec, NM, and Durango, Colo.
In the 1990s, Tétreault helped convince Ruidoso officials to invest in a disc golf course. The mountain community now has a total of four courses, varying in difficulty from beginner to expert level.
A nine-hole course with short links allows beginners to learn the game, while another course features New Mexico’s longest disc golf hole – 8,970 feet.
“A beginner player would never complete the course if he started playing on [the] The 27-hole Grindstone ”Lake golf disc course, said Tetreault, adding that the Ruidoso courses have attracted the Professional Disc Golf Association state tournament for seven consecutive years.
Silver City has no options for disc golfers at this time, but it looks set to fill that gap with no less than two new courses: an 18-hole course offered by the University of Western New Mexico and designed by students to be built at Maude’s Canyon on Crown land near the eastern outskirts of town; and what will likely be a proposed smaller course for the old Hearst Millsite that Silver City recently acquired.
Errol Baade is CEO of Jack’s Plastic Welding, an Aztec company that employs a dozen people who manufacture and distribute inflatable boats, dry bags and self-inflating cushions designed to withstand decades of use along rivers like the Animas. near.
Baade said the company, which was incorporated in 1988, has built a successful business through its reputation among professional river guides. He wants to build a bigger space and expand the company’s manufacturing capacity, but said the Aztec real estate market has not been cooperative in this regard.
A 2 acre piece of land that Baade had in sight recently sold for what he assumed was far more than he could afford to pay.
“They were asking for $ 1 million,” he said. “If he had gone for a reasonable price, I would have ripped it off.”
Baade added that “the square footage generally ranges from $ 40,000 to $ 50,000, so I would have expected to pay around $ 100,000.”
On the topic of affordability, during a question-and-answer period at the Thursday morning roundtable on “The Link Between Outdoor Recreation: Marketing, Events and Product Development”, the professional trail builder Tony Boone described a typical problem that arises in rural communities that have successfully developed outdoor activities. recreation savings: a lack of affordable housing, due to rising house prices and, more recently, the rise in short-term rentals.
“How do you approach this affordability issue when you become an outdoor destination? Asked Boone, who lives in Salida, Colorado. A conference attendee ringing the note “be careful what you wish” became something of a tradition, and a majority of the audience applauded after Boone spoke.
“We already have some destinations in our state that are already realizing this,” said New Mexico Department of Tourism Secretary Jen Schroer, who moderated the discussion. “The introduction of people who can rent these homes on these platforms has really changed the landscape of affordability in our communities.
“The first thing I really recommend is looking at your short term rentals, B & Bs, Airbnbs,” she said, encouraging governments and citizens to work together to “define how you want your community Either because there are ordinances that take that into consideration.
During an enchilada lunch, Boone told the Daily Press that Salida has already placed a moratorium on new short-term rental businesses – something that could be in the cards for Silver City, where officials are starting to think about. ways to alleviate a serious shortage of long-term rental properties.
“You need to develop policies on short-term rentals,” he said. “Sometimes when I go to a conference or meet a new client, I say, ‘I’m a trail builder, you’re welcome and I’m sorry. Because in many cities I’ve been to including Salida and Nederland [Colo.], the joke in the industry is that you can say you’ve done a good job of developing your city as an outdoor recreation destination because the trails are too crowded, it’s too expensive to live there and your employees cannot afford to live there. Welcome to your new success.
“It gets a lot easier if you already have that infrastructure,” like a trail system that was developed as part of a master plan, continued Boone, who also consults as a planner.
“In Trinidad right now, which was a mining town 100 years ago, but looking at what its economy will look like, not to mention the extractive industries, fourth and fifth generation Trinidadians don’t want any part of that. the outdoor recreation industry – until you ask, “Do you want your grandchildren to stay here?” “
Despite the potential for wealth stratification, Boone is a fan of the amenities that often end up arriving in communities that have successfully developed outdoor tourism.
“When I moved to Salida 20 years ago there wasn’t a decent restaurant to eat in, now there are half a dozen,” Boone said. “There weren’t any good hardware stores, and now we have three. Our town has 6,000 inhabitants and there were no bicycle shops – now we have three bicycle shops.
Silver City Councilor Guadalupe Cano is vice-chair of the board of directors of Outdoor New Mexico, the non-profit organization that hosts the outdoor recreation conference. She is in Farmington for the conference and told the Daily Press on Thursday that several roundtables had convinced her of the need for Silver City to consider creating a full-time outdoor recreation position, so that it there is a contact person for marketing, planning and everything related to that facet of economic development.
“We need someone dedicated to marketing – a local person, not an Albuquerque company, whose passion is outdoor recreation – and not someone who is 70 years old,” Cano said. “This is how we smartly build our outdoor recreation economy”.
“We sometimes forget about the future in Silver City,” Cano said. “We have to plan ahead. “
District 36 State Senator Jeff Steinborn, who founded Outdoor New Mexico, said that with the right collaboration and forethought, New Mexico communities can develop outdoor recreation without making the sacrifices that communities in other states agreed.
“One thing that unites all communities in New Mexico is love for the land and the universal recognition of the outdoors’s potential for economic development,” he said. “To do it right, we can’t love these resources to death. We can learn from the experience of other states and learn strategies to avoid this.
Geoffrey Plant can be contacted at [email protected]s.com.