Hobbs voters to decide changes to economic development plan

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — It will be up to residents in Hobbs to approve a proposed change to the New Mexico city’s economic development ordinance that could result in larger retailers locating in the community.

Voters on March 1 will be asked about changing the city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan Ordinance to include cultural facilities and retail businesses as qualifying entities for receiving public support as defined by the state’s Local Economic Development Act.

State lawmakers earlier this year expanded the types of support and the definition of retail businesses to account for municipalities with populations of more than 15,000.

During a legislative session earlier this year, Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb and Clovis Mayor Mike Morris urged lawmakers to make changes to the state economic development statute to allow cities like Hobbs to compete with other municipalities.

The Hobbs News-Sun reported that before those changes were made, municipalities were not able to use public support toward retail establishments or cultural facilities, nor were municipalities with populations more than 15,000 and less than 35,000 able to use it for retail establishments or any other businesses.

City Attorney Efren Cortez told commissioners during a recent meeting that Hobbs has a chance to level the playing field with nearby cities.

“If you look at Lubbock, Texas, for example, Texas has for years utilized tax revenue to spur retail incentives,” he said. “If you’ve been to Lubbock, you can see the exponential growth in their retail sector. I believe a measure like this not only puts the city of Hobbs in the same ballpark, but also New Mexico in general.”

If the measure passes, the ordinance would go into effect July 1.