Group: 90 new jobs created in 2007

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By David Giuliani

Las Vegas’ main economic development organization reports that it helped bring 90 jobs to town in 2007, amounting to an estimated $5 million annual infusion into the local economy.

Sharon Caballero, executive director of the Las Vegas-San Miguel Economic Development Corporation, brought the news to the City Council on Wednesday.

Of the 90 jobs, 76 were with the new Vertex call center, 12 with Old Wood and two with Ralph Barela’s sawmill. She said Barela could double or triple his operation with a contract with Santa Fe Community College to provide woodchips for the school’s biofuel system.

“I think this is the first time an EDC director has stood before you and told you we have 90 new jobs,” she said.

Caballero didn’t mention the closure of The Connection call center last year, which eliminated 57 jobs. The Connection contended that the EDC’s recruitment of Vertex hurt the existing call center because the town doesn’t have room for two. However, EDC has maintained the labor market is big enough for two and that employees’ pay was a factor in The Connection’s closure.

Caballero said an out-of-state company was looking to buy The Connection’s equipment and start a call center here. She said the company has determined that the community couldn’t be blamed for the call center’s closure.

She also said a solar panel manufacturer is looking at the area to have a plant and that local officials are discussing the possibility of a wood pellet business coming to Las Vegas, based on a request from City Councilman Cruz Roybal.

Roybal said he appreciated the effort, but he said it costs more to buy wood pellets in Las Vegas than other nearby towns.

“EDC says shop locally. Let’s make it feasible for the community to afford wood pellets,” he said.

The city gives EDC $40,000 a year to handle economic development for the community.