At last week's economic development summit, around 100 people showed up to brainstorm on ideas about how to stimulate the economy of Belen. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, State Sen. Michael Sanchez and members of the state Economic Development Department were among the distinguished attendees of the summit.
Participants, devided into four panels, discussed the current economic environment of Belen, as well as which directions the city should head in the future.
Denish, a former small-business owner in Hobbs, NM, cited small businesses as a key factor in the economic success of the city.
Sanchez, a native of Belen, co-hosted the summit and said, "We have the best natural resources that there are in a city. Those natural resources are sitting right here in this room."
The general mood of the summit was optimistic. According to summit attendee Robert Auge, co-owner of Auge's Sales and Service, residents of Belen must work together in order to accomplish their like goals. Auge expressed support for whichever plan is finalized for the city's future and encouraged Belen residents to remain in the city, rather than relocating to a more economically prosperous part of the state, such as Albuqerque. Auge said, "It's inevitable we are going to get compared to Albuquerque. If you want to go someplace to shop where you can get a ticket for talking on your cell phone, get caught by a red-light camera or end up in a huge traffic jam, go to Albuquerque."
According to Sanchez, a lot of beneficial ideas came out of the summit. Belen's economy certainly could use a "jump start," and last week's summit was a good jumping-off point. Through effective communication and teamwork, Belen's economy will survive-- and even thrive.