Chamber Corner

Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce President Scott Terry will provide a weekly column to the Beat, featuring items and announcements of interest to the community.

You might be wondering what the title of this article means. Well, you are going to have to keep reading to find out.

It’s the final week of the 2019 legislative session, and there are lots of bills that legislators are trying to get approved before the final gavel is dropped to end the legislative proceedings. Minimum wage, recreational marijuana, filming tax incentives for rural New Mexico… it’s amazing how many bills will be discussed in the closing hours. However, we want to give kudos to Representative Rebecca Dow and Senator Gabe Ramos for authoring a bill that will help the Cancer Treatment Center at Gila Regional Medical Center to the tune of $1.5 million dollars. Now we will watch for the Governor to sign the bill. Thank you, Rebecca and Gabe!

During this week’s Chamber of Commerce monthly lunch meeting, we will ask the crowd what they want to see in the future. Think about it…five years from now, what would you like to see in Silver City? Ten years from now, do you want to see more population and more opportunities? And what do we do now…how should we plan to reach those goals for five years, ten years or even 20 years down the road.

Are there certain types of businesses that you think would be good for our local economy? Thinking in terms of the past twenty years and the explosion of technical inventions and what they have done to change life as we know it…are you ready for the next 10, 15, or 20 years? And how will you learn to use the technology that is just around the corner? Talk about teaching old dogs to do new tricks…are the old dogs ready for new tricks?

Each week I prepare a Chamber of Commerce newsletter that is distributed via email on Fridays. There are times I will send out an email blast regarding something that may be important to Chamber of Commerce members, businesses or the community. This past Monday I distributed an email that gave information about two legislative bills dealing with minimum wage. I explained the basics of each bill and noted that one of the bills was more heavily favored by various state-wide business organizations. Let’s face the facts…the minimum wage in New Mexico is going to increase on July 1, 2019. The amount of the increase will be determined by which bill passes.

Anyway, I receive a fairly rotten email from a local business manager telling me that emails such as that one is the reason why the Chamber of Commerce isn’t liked by some groups. Really? I don’t get it. We provided what is useful information for planning your business and you don’t like us for that. Frankly, I guess I’m glad I don’t run with that crowd. We bust our tails to promote Silver City, Grant County and the surrounding area of southwest New Mexico. We mail hundreds and hundreds of relocation/tourism packets to people around the world wanting more information about our region. We answer thousands of emails and phone calls from people wanting information about our wonderful area. We work really hard to get people to visit Grant County or relocate to our four gentle seasons. We provide a great referral service for businesses that are members of the Chamber of Commerce. Our mission is simple: To serve our members by promoting Business, Commerce and Tourism in Grant County.

The February meeting of the Grant County Commissioners has moved its scheduled meeting from the Grant County Administration Building to the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business & Conference Center.  The conference center is located at 3031 Highway 180 East in Silver City. The meeting is still scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday – February 21 (tomorrow).

If you plan to attend, please be courteous and mindful that Ace Hardware needs to have parking spaces for their customers.  Please do not park directly in front of Ace Hardware.

The Tour of the Gila is gearing up for another exciting year of bike races. State Senator Gabe Ramos and Lt. Governor Howie Morales are asking for you help. They are going to introduce an item for the Appropriations Bill to give some funding to help the Tour of the Gila event. Please call Senator Ramos and Lt. Gov. Morales to tell them Thank You for sponsoring the funding bill.

As president of the Silver City Grant County Chamber of Commerce, I don’t mind people calling me names. Honestly, it’s sometimes like a badge of honor. And in the instance, as president of the local Chamber of Commerce, I am very pleased with the company I am keeping. When you do this kind of work, you get used to remarks and name calling. It’s really not that big a deal. When I lived in Ruston, Louisiana, we were working with the Mayor and business leaders to change the alcohol laws to allow for liquor by the drink with a meal on Sundays. The night the City Council voted, and went along with our changes, a really nice lady that I had known since my childhood days came up to me after the meeting and told me she now knew why God had given me cancer. I simply smiled and told her that my wish was that one of these days she would become the fine upstanding Christian lady that she thought she was. I turned and walked away.

chino mine displayPictured are Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Board Members William Knuttinen and Jack Herndon (Courtesy Photo)As many of you are aware, the observation area above the Chino Mine has been closed for some time now.  Freeport-McMoRan had to close it due to safety issues with the new haul road that runs directly beside the old observation area. We’re proud that the company is concerned about the safety of not only their workers, but also the public. However, people really enjoyed the overlook so your Chamber of Commerce worked with Freeport-McMoRan to come up with a pretty nice alternative. In one of the lobbies of the Grant County Conference Center, there stands an 8 ft. x 10 ft. display with a beautiful picture of the Chino Mine pit. The picture was taken and donated from a drone by Roth Drone Service, LLC. in Silver City. You can stand in front of it and have a picture taken or take a selfie in front of the picture of the pit.

We received word late Tuesday afternoon, that Governor Lujan Grisham has signed Senate Bill 106 - legislation eliminating Exemption G of the State’s Lodgers’ Tax Statute. With the expanding popularity of private vacation rental websites like Airbnb and VRBO, Exemption G had effectively created a tax loop-hole that allowed many property owners to avoid collecting and paying Lodgers’ Tax on revenue generated by the short-term rental of these properties. The law will go into effect July 1, 2019.

We have ribbon cuttings coming up soon:

Whether you have business interests or personal interests, being proactive regarding government legislation is imperative for your future. Most of us can’t afford to hire a lobbyist to take out concerns to the town council, county commissioners, or the state legislature. Regarding local government bodies, it is usually pretty easy to contact a member of the Town Council or to speak to a County Commissioner, and if the cause is really important, we can usually make a local town council or county commissioner’s meeting. However, that isn’t always true when it comes to the state legislature. It’s expensive to make the trips to Santa Fe. It takes a huge amount of time for travel and time for meeting with key legislators. Luckily, we have a great group of people in Grant County that can help in regards to dealing with elected politicians in Santa Fe. They are the Grant County Prospectors.

Prior to the beginning of the annual legislature, The Prospectors meet with different business executives, groups, government entities and individuals. The meeting allows those individuals a chance to plead their case as to why their legislative interest should become a part of the annual Prospectors Legislative Agenda. This local group has a great reputation with state lawmakers…so the Prospectors Agenda definitely carries some weight. We say thank you to the Grant County Prospectors for being proactive to important local issues that will come before the state legislature.

This is a legislative session that is full of concerns for many people in Grant County.

  • Minimum Wages
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • HB 123/ HB 126 and HB 165 – Expansion of LEDA and JTIP funding
  • SB 35 – funding targeted for a campaign to support retirement to New Mexico
  • HB 91 – establishing a high-quality career technical education pilot program
  • HB 183 - Creation of a registered apprenticeship program for high schools for graduation.
  • Various bills that will change gun ownership and seem to infringe on Second Amendment rights.
  • A senate bill that will be introduced soon to establish higher tax incentives for film production in rural parts of the state.
  • Across the board pay increases for all people working in our state’s school districts.
  • Legislation pushing for increased costs to mining operations across the state.
  • Increase in fuel tax
  • Increase in personal tax

This is the time of year that the pilgrimages to Santa Fe begin. Every town and city, every county, all types of government agencies have their hands out trying to get what they believe is their fair share of the State’s money. It’s not a great system that we have in New Mexico, but it is the system…so you either play or you lose.

That said, there are many issues that come up each year during the legislative session. No doubt there are some really hot potatoes this year. Gun Control changes, changes to abortion laws, environmental issues, sanctuary state, maybe recreational marijuana and definitely increasing the minimum wage law…these will be “hot button” issues that will probably stir emotions as much as debate.

Minimum Wage: I’m always amazed to hear state politicians howling at the moon that our people can never move forward if we don’t raise the state’s minimum wage. The sad thing is that some of these politicians have never owned or managed a regular small business…they have always been in the political industry.  Well we shouldn’t bow down to these folks. We should work with them to educate them on what their decisions mean to real New Mexico. Literally, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t have a discussion about New Mexico’s minimum wage with a local business owner/manager. These folks are worried. They are frightened. They have invested their life savings into a small business and they are terribly uncertain of the future. They understand that they can probably make their business still work with a bump from $7.50 to $8.50. However, if state politicians vote to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour or $12.00 an hour immediately with provisions to go higher maybe in a year or two…frankly, it scares the hell out of them. If you are a small business owner or manager and you haven’t started working on a plan of how you are going to make your business work with these higher expenses…well you need to begin now. One restaurant owner stated he was told there was a bill that would end tip employees and everyone would fall under the same minimum wage law. He explained how if his dishwasher got an increase, then the waitresses would want more…and the cooks would want more…and the ripple effect would kill his ability to have menu items priced at a rate that make his customers happy. It would be the beginning of the end.

Live from Silver City

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