New 4CED website funded by $20k grant from Merrion Family Foundation
CEO expects project to have substantial impact
FARMINGTON — There's a lot more to economic development work than simply compiling and organizing a bunch of facts and figures, something Arvin Trujillo knows very well.
But that's a good place to start. And now, Trujillo — CEO of Four Corners Economic Development Inc., the organization charged with marshaling efforts to bring new business to San Juan County — knows that, for the first time, he has a well-sharpened tool designed to help him do his job.
On April 1, 4CED launched its new website, 4cornersed.com, which was financed by a $20,000 grant from Farmington's Merrion Family Foundation. Trujillo said his organization had identified the need for a stronger new website as a priority last year, and it put together a proposal seeking funding for the project, sending it to local philanthropic organizations. The Merrion Family Foundation responded with the grant.
4CED contracted with the Golden Shovel Agency — a Little Falls, Minnesota-based economic development marketing firm that emphasizes website development and online communications — to produce the new website, and work commenced seven months ago. Trujillo said new features will continue to be added to the site over the next several weeks, but it was launched this week because officials believed it was important to unveil it to the public.
Trujillo laughed heartily when he was asked to compare the new site to its predecessor.
"Quite frankly, there's really no comparison," he said, explaining that the new site features easy-to-access material about communities throughout San Juan County, including the Navajo Nation, that had never been compiled in one location until now.
"It tells a story," he said. "Each community expresses what's important to them and the economic development opportunities in their community. It even lists commercial properties on their subpage that are available to develop."
The website offers extensive demographic figures for the county, broken down by age, sex, race, educational attainment, household size, household income and other metrics. It features subpages for communities throughout the county, including Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and Kirtland.
Trujillo said that aspect of the project was especially important.
"This was a community project," he said. "The idea was to sell San Juan County. We went to Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and Kirtland, and asked them to help us build their subpages. It was an opportunity to tell us what's important about your community and why should someone consider moving to your area. Then we helped them clean up the rough edges."
One of the more impressive features of the site is its data mapping tool, which allows visitors to focus on specific areas of the county to unearth a wide range of information. It also has a feature that allows visitors to directly compare the demographics of a local community with those of other regional communities such Santa Fe; Flagstaff, Arizona; or Durango, Montrose or Grand Junction in Colorado.
The data mapping site also allows visitors to examine specific areas of the county for specific types of industrial development, industrial clusters or specific business searches. It also includes pages devoted to industries that have been targeted for growth in the county — agriculture, energy, manufacturing, petrochemicals manufacturing and retail/tourism — and describes the efforts being made to promote their growth.
Trujillo views the new website as a major time saver for anyone considering San Juan County as a possible business development site. Previously, anyone interested in obtaining those demographics would have needed to contact 4CED and supply a lengthy list of questions, then the organization would have had to conduct that research and get back to the inquiring party, he said — a process that could have taken days or weeks.
Now, all that information is just a few keystrokes away.
Trujillo said after an initial website was compiled, a committee made up of two dozen people from various industries reviewed it and offered its feedback. That was a very worthwhile exercise, he said.
"They came back with a lot of good ideas to improve it," he said.
An enormous amount of work went into the new website, Trujillo said, and nothing about initiating a project of that nature came easily — which may explain why it hadn't been done earlier.
"It was a daunting effort," he said. "But with (the Golden Shovel Agency's) help, we were able to get through it. It was an especially steep learning curve for me. I had never done anything like this."
The website was launched only a few days ago, so Trujillo hadn't received a lot of feedback from community members. But he said the few things he had heard were positive, and he looks forward to seeing it have an impact soon.
"My expectation is, once people start seeing what's available, we'll start seeing new growth opportunities," he said, explaining that he expects the volume of inquiries received by his agency and representatives of the municipalities throughout the county to increase in the months ahead.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.