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Farmington names economic development director
Warren Unsicker will begin new position in November
FARMINGTON — Four Corners Economic Development CEO Warren Unsicker will be leaving the organization in November.
When the city of Farmington created an economic development department this month, Unsicker accepted the position of director of economic development for the city.
According to a press release, 4CED will be appointing an interim CEO as it searches for someone to take Unsicker’s place. Unsicker will continue assisting 4CED over the upcoming months with projects the organization already has in motion, such as attracting a retirement community.
The economic development department was created after the City Council passed a 1/4 of 1 percent gross receipts tax increase to fund community transformation and economic development.
Mayor Nate Duckett said in a press release that Unsicker’s transition to the city will provide Farmington with “leadership that is already familiar with the goals and landscape of the region’s economy.”
Farmington is in the process of trying to diversify the economy in light of the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022, as well as the recent downturn in the oil and gas industries that led to budget cuts at the city level.
“We are at a precipice,” Unsicker said in a press release. “And we can either leap into Farmington’s vibrant future or be left wondering where we went wrong.”
He said it is imperative for the city to act now because it has the momentum and funding.
Unsicker is one of 13 certified economic developers in New Mexico, which the city of Farmington says lends credibility to the efforts it is undertaking, and sets tone and pace for the city’s next steps. The certification requires the holder to pass an exam, have a certain amount of experience and take certain classes that cover various aspects of economic development.
4CED board chairwoman Shantel Cooper praised the city’s decision to hire Unsicker in a press release from the city.
“We see this as a win-win,” she said. “We are able to keep the momentum behind already active programs that were Farmington centric, but with greater resources.”
She added that 4CED can continue its efforts on regionally focused initiatives that benefit both Farmington and the rest of San Juan County.
Farmington Chamber of Commerce President Audra Winters said she is excited for Unsicker, who will be able to use his experience to benefit Farmington in ways that he was not able to do in the past.
Unsicker came to Farmington from the Broken Arrow Economic Development Corporation in northeast Oklahoma in 2016 after completing a renovation of the Rose District downtown arts and entertainment district. The renovation was similar to what the city of Farmington is undertaking in its Complete Streets renovation of downtown. Winters said Unsicker's experience in Oklahoma will help Farmington's downtown renovation.
Winters said she is hoping for a smooth transition as Unsicker takes his new job and 4CED finds a new leader. She said 4CED's board filled in while the organization was searching for Unsicker two years ago, and she anticipates the board members will do the same now.
"Yeah, there will be some hiccups," she said. "But I don't think there will be anything too drastic."
She said the chamber supports Unsicker's move to the city and will continue to work closely with both the city and 4CED in the future.