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Economic forum will examine issues from national, state and regional basis

Variety of speakers planned for afternoon-long event

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Arvin Trujillo
  • The forum takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center on the San Juan College campus.
  • Admission is free, but registration is required.
  • The forum is targeted primarily for business people and government officials, but any interested resident may attend.

FARMINGTON — Participants in the inaugural Northwest Regional Economic Outlook Forum planned for Jan. 8 at San Juan College will have the chance to hear about the economy from a variety of perspectives.

The event features speakers who will address economic issues at the national, state, regional and local levels. The forum is being presented by Four Corners Economic Development Inc., San Juan College's Center for Workforce Development and Wells Fargo.

Arvin Trujillo, the CEO of Four Corners Economic Development, said Wells Fargo has presented a similar event in Durango, Colorado, for many years, and that gave local economic development officials the idea of holding a forum here.

"The goal is to start getting the community looking at what's happening on a national, state and regional basis," he said, explaining that having that knowledge will better equip local officials for change and allow them to anticipate opportunities that may arise.

"The better informed our community is on what's going on outside the region, the better off we are," Arvin said. " … This is our effort to try to broaden the knowledge base of our community."

Trujillo said the forum is targeted primarily for business people and government officials, but he also hopes to see anyone with an interest in economic developments attend the event.

He's hoping for a strong turnout from the Navajo Nation.

"It's an integral part of San Juan County," Trujillo said. "This is information I think would be beneficial to almost anyone."

Having a well-informed citizenry is integral to mounting a community-wide economic development effort, he said.

San Juan County is struggling to move toward new options for its local economy as the ups and downs of the extraction industry have taken their toll here. In this file photo crews work Jan. 8, 2016, at the WPX Energy drilling rig near Lybrook.

Varied list of speakers at forum

The list of speakers includes Sarah House, a senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities; Rachel Moskowitz, bureau chief of the Economic Research and Analysis Bureau at the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions; Jim Peach, a New Mexico State University professor emeritus of economics; and a panel of government officials from Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield, Kirtland and the Navajo Nation.

House has the highest profile of anyone on that list, as she regularly serves as a source on economic issues for such media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and National Public Radio. A resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, she has written two books, "Economic and Business Forecasting" and "Economic Modeling in the Post Great Recession Era."

Moskowitz and Peach will offer perspectives on the economy closer to home, with Peach approaching issues on a statewide basis and Moskowitz examining them at the level of northwest New Mexico and San Juan County.

The event will conclude with the panel of local officials describing their expectations and priorities for their own communities. Each presentation is scheduled to last 30 minutes.

Trujillo is hoping for an audience of 100 to 200 people at the forum. He would like to see the forum become an annual occurrence in San Juan County and believes it has a role to play in helping local industries avoid being caught flat footed by downward trends.

"We need to develop that connection from the national economy to the state to the region," he said. "We know there's a lag there."

The forum takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Henderson Fine Arts Center on the college campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington. Admission is free, but registration is required. Visit 4cornersed.com/NW-Regional-Forum or call 505-566-3702.

The future of continued operations at the San Juan Generating Station in Waterflow looms over any discussion of the local economy. Experts will gather this week at San Juan College to discuss San Juan County's economic future.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610, or via email at measterling@daily-times.com.