involves South Valley residents in economic development vision
Córdova, associate professor in the UNM School of Architecture
and Planning and director of the schools Resource Center
for Raza Planning (RCRP), looks forward to the groundbreaking
of a South Valley small business incubator in September.
Resource Center for Raza Planning has been working with the
Rio Grande Community Development Corporation since 1996 to bring
this kind of economic development into the South Valley. The
business incubator and the commercial kitchen and are in direct
response to community input, Córdova said.
kitchen, part of phase one of the project, could be home to
Merlinda Salsa. Merlinda wants her own canning facility
and our hope is that she will use produce tomatoes, chiles,
garlic and onions grown in the South Valley, she
growers market exists in Adobe Acres said James Maestas, a Growers
Market Association board member who is working to establish
a second market at Bridge and Isleta.
and the Resource Center for Raza Planning put together a booklet
on basic gardening techniques that Maestas uses with the students.
Teresa and RCRP have provided us with both technical assistance
and access to grants from HSIAC [Hispanic Serving Institutions
Assisting Communities] that helped support our grassroots activities,
Maestas said. He said that Córdova and RCRP helped the
Indo-Hispano Academy identify additional funding sources and
to do strategic planning.
Teresas help, we can compete with major organizations
to have access to private and public funding. We will use those
resources to help develop the economy in the South Valley,
arent the only ones who see the benefit in RCRP labors.
The work of the Resource Center for Raza Planning at the
University of New Mexico, under the Hispanic Serving Institutions
Assisting Communities grant program, exemplifies all that may
be accomplished in collaborating with local partners
Rio Grande Development Corporation, South Valley Economic Development
Center and others to offer important services, encourage
new businesses, provide jobs and guide students towards better
futures, Madlyn Wohlman-Rodriguez, Office of University
Partnerships, U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development
phase of the business incubator will include small manufacturing.
Were looking at woodworking and metal crafts, perhaps
small furniture and retablos as the kind of light manufacturing
that could move in during phase two, Córdova said,
adding that a child care facility for workers in the business
incubator and training for care providers is slated in the second
is something of a groundbreaker herself. She earned all her
degrees in sociology, but moved into community planning because
she wanted her research to have real world application.
work in community activism has early roots. Maybe I was even
born with it. My father instilled in me passion and commitment
to community and social responsibility, she said.
downplays the role RCRP has played in bringing economic development
to the South Valley. The Rio Grande Community Development
Corporation designed the center in conjunction with community
desires. We just assist. The South Valley Economic Development
Center will strengthen small business activity and self-employment
opportunities, she said.
integral in determining what kind of development people in the
area wanted. RCRP students, mostly graduate students in Community
and Regional Planning within UNMs School of Architecture
and Planning, conducted door-to-door surveys asking residents
what they wanted.
the survey determined skills and hobbies the residents possess
that might be turned into job opportunities. We are also
looking at youth entrepreneurship and providing learning for
life programs using less formal, less intimidating methods.
We want to offer mentorship by the community for the community,
helped raise $2.2 million for phase one. We wrote grants,
helped with business and marketing plans as well as an economic
development plan. We are currently looking for someone from
the community with this expertise to continue the initiative,
makes the distinction between typical economic development and
the current approach in the South Valley. Generally, economic
developers try to recruit industry to the region. They identify
companies and either try to get them to relocate here or open
a branch of their operation in the area. We opt to build from
within. We want to build capacity from within the community.
By creating self-employment opportunities we involve the community
in the vision, their vision, she said.
also aided the South Valley by conducting public participation
processes for infrastructure projects such as a water system,
road improvements, drainage and sewer.
to our involvement is the challenge to bring engineers, subcontractors
and Public Works into public participation. We wanted to ensure
that community voices were heard and that the forum was open
for thoughts and opinions to be heard. It is an art to facilitate
those discussions, she said. RCRP also placed phone calls,
maintained mailing lists and sent out newsletters to people
in the area.
final project design is a great reflection of that dialogue.
Engineers who were initially nervous about the process saw the
benefit in it. Follow up, follow through is key, she said.
We do what we can for the community so people know whats
going on and are a part of the process.