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TMCNet:  RR's economic development nonprofit criticized

[July 15, 2013]

RR's economic development nonprofit criticized

RIO RANCHO, Jul 15, 2013 (Albuquerque Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- City councilors lobbed a fusillade of criticism at Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp. last week before rejecting a proposed new contract worth $80,000.

Their gripes included lack of communication with the council and coordination of efforts with city staff, a dearth of new ideas and an apparent conflict of interest in providing services to both the city and Sandoval County.

"When I was elected, economic development was my No. 1 goal," Councilor Mark Scott said. "I am very disappointed." Scott, Lonnie Clayton and Chuck Wilkins voted against the proposed contract and asked City Manager Keith Riesberg to craft a new proposal and present it to them on Sept. 25.

Councilors Tamara Gutierrez and Patty Thomas voted for the contract. Councilor Tim Crum was absent from the meeting last Wednesday.

Rio Rancho has contracted with RREDC, an independent nonprofit, since 1992 to provide marketing and economic-development services to bring new businesses and jobs to the city. The contract for the fiscal year that ended June 30 was worth $120,000, or $40,000 more than the rejected agreement.

In a phone interview before the council meeting, RREDC President Noreen Scott said the reduced amount would hamper her ability to market the city to prospective business clients.

She was traveling and didn't attend the meeting. RREDC executive board member Matt Spangler spoke for the organization, arguing that it brought dozens of new companies to Rio Rancho, including Stolar Research this year. Benefits it provided included working with state legislators and securing state-funded training money, Spangler said.

Former RREDC chairman and Intel spokesman Terry McDermott also spoke. He stressed the value of confidentiality RREDC provides to businesses. Municipalities are subject to public information requirements, which can jeopardize deals, he said.

Clayton's comments included a dig at RREDC's ability to conduct due diligence in business deals, a reference he later said, to Green2V the solar manufacturer touted in 2010 to bring 1,500 jobs. The promised financing never materialized and a Journal story revealed that Green2V's executive vice president had been the subject of a cease-and-desist order by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when he was president of a company in Texas.

Clayton also pointed out that RREDC also has a contract to provide economic development services to Sandoval County, which he sees as a conflict of interest.

In an interview later, Wilkins said he hopes Riesberg will craft an agreement that ensures better cooperation between RREDC and city staff and better economic results.

"Economic development needs a partnership between the public and private sector and RREDC will continue to work toward that," Spangler said in an interview last week.

___ (c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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