City leaders hope to make Farmington household name in outdoor recreation

More than a dozen people attended Saturday seminar

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Judy Castleberry, left, director of the Enterprise Center at San Juan College, talks during a bus tour of Farmington during a business incubation conference for outdoor and recreation tourism on Saturday at the San Juan College Quality Center for Business.
  • City leaders hope outdoor recreation businesses will keep locals and visitors in Farmington instead of heading to Durango.
  • Seminar leaders gave examples of a goat hotel and an excavator playground as innovative business ideas in the industry.

FARMINGTON — Outdoor entrepreneurs met at San Juan College Saturday to learn how to help the city live up to its slogan of "Jolt your journey."

More than a dozen community members attended the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative Basecamp at the college’s Quality Center for Business. Cory Styron, director of the city Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department, and Tonya Stinson, executive director of the Farmington Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, gave information about the outdoor recreation industry and its potential in the Four Corners.

Styron said when city leadership started talking about attracting more tourism several years ago, they found a pattern of migration out of Farmington.

“We were floored that everybody said, ‘Go to Durango, go ride the train,’ and we realized that you don’t have to stay up there — you can start out here, go there and come back,” Styron said. “We started asking more questions, and we realized that we have all these opportunities in our backyard, but we’re not telling ourselves or our residents or our family and friends when they’re coming to visit, ‘Let’s go to the Glades. Let’s go to the Animas River Trail. Let’s take a day trip and go up to (Farmington) Lake. Let’s take a day trip and ride the train and then go to the museum tomorrow.’”

Carmen Martinez, director of the Small Business Development Center at San Juan College, gives a presentation on Saturday at the San Juan College Quality Center for Business in Farmington.

Styron said there’s a good foundation for the industry here, explaining that some 60 percent of the Four Corners population uses the outdoor recreation amenities and resources that the region offers, and Stinson said the most visited pages on the city of Farmington website are those for the Bisti Badlands, Lake Farmington, and hiking and fishing opportunities.

Stinson also encouraged attendees to think outside of the box in creating business ideas for outdoor recreation and tourism companies, giving examples of actual businesses including a goat hotel, an excavator playground and voluntourism opportunities.

The goal is for Farmington to become a household name in the industry, Styron said.

Judy Castleberry, director of the Enterprise Center, talks about the business incubation facilities on Saturday at the San Juan College Quality Center for Business in Farmington.

“We want to be that when we talk about outdoor recreation in New Mexico, you don’t think Albuquerque, you don’t think Las Cruces,” Styron said. “The first thing that (you think) is, ‘I gotta get to Farmington,’ and you don’t think Farmington, New Mexico. Moab has 13,000 permanent residents — you don’t have to say Moab, Utah. You say it and everybody knows exactly what you’re talking about. That’s what we want with Farmington.”

Check the March edition of the Four Corners Business Journal for more coverage of the ORII Basecamp.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or