BLOOMFIELD — A San Juan County native has returned to Bloomfield to help lead the business community after spending six years in Las Cruces pursuing her education.
Jennifer Doyle, 27, is the newly hired executive director of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce. She succeeded Bernadette Smith, who retired.
Doyle was raised in Bloomfield and attended Aztec High School, graduating in 2004. She started her first business at age 18 out of Las Cruces, selling accessories and jewelry at trade shows. She called the business Denim and Diamonds.
Now Doyle owns a Farmington retail shop, Gypsies Well-Traveled Treasures, with her sister, Stacy Archibeque. They took over the shop in January.
For Doyle, it was an easy decision to come back.
"San Juan County will always be home to me," she said. "My heart is here. Everything I love is here."
Doyle said her experience in Las Cruces -- where she earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and a master's in communications from New Mexico State University -- helped her mature.
"It gave me the opportunity to grow up and become my own person," she said.
Doyle said she wants to get to know business owners better.
"Right now I just want to get acquainted with all the past and present members," she said. "I want to find out what they want out of the Chamber."
Doyle took over the position June 5 and works 30 hours a week. She also does the books at Gypsies.
One of Doyle's first tasks was helping with last-minute preparations for the annual balloon rally that was held June 14 through 16.
"It was very fast-paced," Doyle said. "The volunteers and teamwork and camaraderie that everybody has was definitely good to see."
Smith, who served as executive director for five years before retiring March 1, said it's time for a new voice in Bloomfield.
"I'm hoping she'll bring some new ideas and new energy to Bloomfield," Smith said.
Bloomfield, population 7,968, relies on the oil and gas industry to stimulate much of the business activity in town. Oil and gas production has been declining, and a two-year-long road construction project hurt businesses along U.S. Highway 64 until it was finished in December.
However, there are some positive signs in Bloomfield. A Hilton-affiliated hotel has been proposed and is scheduled to open in spring 2015. Also, a development group called REM Holdings has cobbled together 60 acres along U.S. Highway 550 in Bloomfield with plans to build restaurants and other amenities.
Doyle believes she's the right person to lead the Bloomfield Chamber.
"Growing up in Bloomfield and the surrounding areas, it made me think it's a perfect fit for me," she said.