Reposted with permission from the Hobbs News Sun

LOVINGTON — Lovington Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Evelyn Holguin spread her wings this fall, beginning a three-year term on the state’s Community Development Council.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Holguin to the council in September.

The CDC is responsible for distributing funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to municipalities and counties throughout New Mexico in the form of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

Representing the council’s district 6, which includes Lincoln, Otero, Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties, Holguin already marks successes in helping small communities gain grants.

Working in the Lovington EDC for 11 years, Holguin described her appointment to the council as “exciting.”

“I’m actually very excited because I think it’s a benefit for me to be on there because I’m economic development,” Holguin said. “I know first hand infrastructure, the benefits and necessities we need for our community to grow. I’m the only economic development person they have on that board.”

In the first public hearing of the council, Holguin found infrastructure concerns to tackle. Four communities in District 6 applying for and receiving CDBGs were Alamogordo, Artesia, Loving and Jal.

“(The program) helps, especially, small communities that don’t have a large GRT (gross receipts tax) base. They’re the ones that truly benefit,” Holguin said. “Jal is one that is doing a street. The heavy (oilfield) traffic has torn up their streets, so they’re trying to turn it around, get an alternative route.”

Jal received $750,000, the maximum amount for which a municipality may apply, for the city’s street work.

Loving, in southern Eddy County, has similar problems to Jal’s, but Loving applied for help with its wastewater treatment plan.

“Their sewer plant was backing up. They had to close the city hall for a couple of weeks because of the smell,” Holguin said. “They were awarded $750,000 to help them update and get a larger sewer. We all know that Loving is one of the busy towns with oil and gas.”

Alamogordo received $500,000 and Artesia received $749,000 for their respective infrastructure issues.

“(Serving on the council) gives you an opportunity to see what problems everyone is running into. Me being the economic development for Lovington for 11 years, you think it’s only you, but it’s really true. Everyone has their own small problems,” Holguin said.

“If you think about it, Lea County is doing really well compared to other small towns in New Mexico. It’s a little eye opener and humbling for everyone,” Holguin added. “District 6 is doing really well, management wise. Everyone is moving the right direction. I’m really proud of that.”

A life-long resident of Lea County, Holguin was born in Hobbs and was raised and educated in Lovington. She said she expects to receive her bachelor’s degree in business management next spring.

She began her career in 2008 as the office manager for the Lovington EDC, Lovington Chamber of Commerce and Lovington MainStreet.

“During that time, the three organizations decided to split up. They were directed by one director and one office manager for all three organizations. They split at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009,” Holguin said. “I decided to stay on with the EDC.”

Shortly after the split, she served a stint as the acting director, then was appointed executive director of the EDC.

Asked if she had any goals for her tenure on the community development council, Holguin said, “I definitely want to help my district the most I can. I want to see us all grow as a whole in New Mexico, but I want to give my two cents for my district. My goal is to hopefully get full funding for everyone.”