Farmington, Dineh chambers of commerce sign memorandum of understanding

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Jamie Church, Farmington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, left, and Jeff Begay, board chairman of the Dineh Chamber of Commerce, talk on March 13 after signing the memorandum of understanding in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Leaders from the Farmington Chamber of Commerce and the Dineh Chamber of Commerce hope a new memorandum of understanding develops collaboration and furthers economic development in the region.

This is the first memorandum for the Dineh Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization that advocates for and assists Navajo-owned businesses, with a similar association in a city that borders the reservation.

Jeff Begay, the Dineh Chamber of Commerce's board chairman, said the new relationship will generate advocacy for businesses and for economic opportunities in discussion with officials in tribal and state governments.

"We made a huge step today towards that advocacy and we hope it brings great results for both sides," Begay said.

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Jeff Begay, board chairman of the Dineh Chamber of Commerce, takes notes during the association's meeting on March 13 in Farmington. At the meeting, board members agreed to signing a memorandum of understanding with the Farmington Chamber of Commerce.

The board of directors for Farmington approved the memorandum on March 10, followed by Dineh's board of directors on March 13.

Jamie Church, president and CEO of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, said the union between the associations will strengthen the business community's voice when advocating to New Mexico leadership or when applying for grants to further economic growth.

"It's all in the spirit of collaboration and partnership and really expanding economic development throughout our entire region," she said.

The Farmington chamber wants to see economic development within the entire Four Corners because it bolsters, develops and diversifies opportunities, she added.

Begay and Church shared the outlook that the alliance will bring new economic activities, develop joint ventures and retain homegrown talent.

Four Corners Economic Development helped facilitate conversation between the chambers.

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From left, Four Corners Economic Development Board Chairman Steve Grey, 4CED CEO Arvin Trujillo, Farmington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jamie Church, Dineh Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Jeff Begay and Dineh Chamber of Commerce Board Member Lydelle Davies and members of the Dineh chamber pause to recognize the memorandum of understanding signed leaders from both chambers on March 13 in Farmington.

Arvin Trujillo, CEO of 4CED, mentioned there was an economic conference a few years ago where participants were from throughout the Four Corners and the Navajo Nation and it revealed a "tremendous need" for business owners and companies on and near the tribal land to work together.

"Everybody was basically looking within their own communities and focused on that, but not really venturing out as to what's happening around us," Trujillo said.

Therefore, the collaboration between the chambers is important and it also adds to the discussion about how the region moves from an energy-based economy to one based on new opportunities, he explained.

It can also eliminate the barrier among businesses on the Navajo Nation and Farmington to work toward the common goal, he added.

"I think it begins to develop that dialogue, so people begin to realize that we are San Juan County, whether we are on the nation or not," Trujillo said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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