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Local Chamber of Commerce works to achieve sustained success

This is at least the fourth iteration of a Las Vegas/San Miguel Chamber of Commerce in the last 40 plus years.

Phillip Martínez, Vice President of Franken Construction, and David Luna, retired NMBHI Administrator for Adolescent Mental Health and Staff Development, began exploring the possibilities and analyzing the possible past weaknesses as part of their determination that this will be the last restart and the new improved Chamber of Commerce will be built to last and to help lead the community.

Briana Montaño Baca, Associate director at New Mexico Small Business Development Center housed at Luna Community College, stepped up to support them and the progress they have made together is impressive.

The incubator for the new Chamber is an Economic Development Committee holding monthly discussions on the last Monday of every month at NMHU.

The involvement of many local businesses, non-profits, city and county officials and involved and interested citizens suggests real representation as plans are made.

Attendance has doubled and committees are already meeting to research and advance important topics including their mission statement, tourism, cybersecurity, education, the golf course and securing the 2021 NM Counties Conference.

Conversations included the status of education in the community and ways to improve quality and results. Additionally, and possibly more importantly, is the need to promote the perception of excellence.

Both districts are making progress. Local schools are offering plumbing, welding, healthcare, film production, culinary arts and automotive repair along with the usual subjects.

One example of success is that 10 Las Vegas students graduated and moved directly into the UNM College to MD program. They are all encouraged to practice in rural New Mexico when their education is complete.

West Las Vegas Schools Superintendent Chris Gutiérrez described a program that placed a Chromebook in the hands of every student in the district.He is promoting a vocational focus in the West Las Vegas Schools to complement the college-bound programs and has reduced the dropout rate.

The Schapiro Group’s 2012 study on the value of Chambers of Commerce was summed up this way: “If respondents know that a small business is a member of its local chamber, the business enjoys a 49 percent increase in its consumer favorability rating, a 73 percent increase in consumer awareness, a 68 percent increase in its local reputation, and an 80 percent increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.”

For years, the Las Vegas First Independent Business Alliance has worked to fill the vacuum left when the Chamber has folded, but they don’t share completely identical goals.

While both want to promote Las Vegas, preserve its unique community character and build economic strength, LVFIBA is also committed to preventing the mass displacement of community-based businesses by national and international chains.

Perhaps the best measure of the value of the Chamber is that LVFIBA doesn’t consider them competition, but welcome allies in their efforts to both serve the community and the economy.

For information about the Chamber, contact

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