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International Negotiator To Speak At Rural Economic Development Forum

LAS CRUCES -- A conflict resolution expert who's worked in Bosnia, Romania, Nicaragua and Washington, D.C., will give the keynote address at the New Mexico Rural Economic Development Forum, Oct. 21-23 at the Roswell Convention Center.

Merle Lefkoff, president of Lefkoff and Associates, will speak about team building and negotiation, said Bob Coppedge, forum chair and economic development specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

"She's experienced in resolving disputes that occur at the local level with real-life problems," Coppedge said. "In any community with talk about new business and economic development, there is always some aspect of it that people really question or perhaps don't even like. We face a lot of these issues in rural New Mexico, so I think she's going to be a very appropriate speaker for some of the needs we're facing."

This year's forum, designed especially for community leaders and volunteers, will take a practical approach to economic development. The conference theme, "Solving the Puzzle," includes six elements of economic development: incentives, impact analysis, growth issues, environmental considerations, leadership and housing, Coppedge said.

"We're using an example of a typical company that might want to locate in a community and examining issues that surround the decision that community has to make."

Public officials and economic development professionals also will attend the forum. Gov. Gary Johnson will present awards at the banquet Oct. 22.

Conference registration begins at 11 a.m. Oct. 21. The forum adjourns at noon Oct. 23. Programs are at the Roswell Convention Center. The host hotel is the Best Western Sally Port Inn.

Registration, which includes all meals, is $125 before Oct. 1 and $145 thereafter. An information packet was mailed statewide in mid-September. For registration information, call Coppedge at (505) 646-4122.

Major sponsors include Extension, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), New Mexico Small Business Development Center, Plains Electric Cooperative, New Mexico Department of Economic Development, New Mexico Rural Alliance, New Mexico Rural Development Response Council and CBS Southwest Television.

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in this meeting, please call the contact person for the event two weeks in advance.