Businesses that went above and beyond in 2020 were honored by the Lovington Chamber of Commerce, Lovington Economic Development Cooperation and Lovington Main-Street in a virtual ceremony.
In 2020 Lovington was hit hard with economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Mayor David Trujillo said he can see a light at the end of the tunnel and a bright 2021 for the city when he spoke at Thursday’s ceremony.
“We continue to move forward. This evening proves that,” Trujillo said. “In trying times (we) still gather together, and still recognize our good people in our community and 2021 is going to be a great year.”
Although this year’s award ceremony looked different due to COVID-19 restrictions the LEDC, LCC and LMS award businesses and individuals working to better Lovington annually.
While business development and business traffic slowed in 2020, some developers still made strides in Lovington and the winners of LEDC’s “Grow it,” “Show it,” and “Enjoy it” awards did just that.
“These awards are given in honor and excellence in community development,” LEDC Executive Director Evelyn Holguin said.
The “Grow it” award winner was announced as VP Terra, LLC, Eddie Valencia. Holguin announced Valencia has invested about $500,000 in property and infrastructure improvements for a Cobblestone Hotel, but that won’t be all. The entire project could cost up to $8 million when completed.
Nadeem and Cyndi Kassis with Kassis Companies took home 2020’s “Show it” award. The family-owned company has been in Lea County more than 20 years and now has opened a shopping center in Lovington, which took the place of a vacant building that sat empty for nearly 25 years.
In 2021 the Kassis’ will bring a new Tornado Wash to Lovington.
Last but not least True Brew Coffee owners, Keith and Yolanda Clayton took home 2020’s “Enjoy it” award. The Clayton’s fulfilled their long-time dream when they opened True Brew in 2020 and according to Holguin, filled a gap in the community.
Each business investments really set them apart Holguin told the News-Sun after the ceremony.
“We truly think that they deserve it,” Holguin said. “To the fact that none of them live here, yet they are still investing in our community. Especially right now when we’re not doing so hot. We are proud to award them because due to the fact that they are a part of our economic recovery.”
“Economies everywhere are hurting and to be able to still continue to go forward it great,” LEDC Board President and Police Chief David Rodriguez added.
Holguin also announced, “many new and great things coming in 2021,” such as Big Dog Industry’s Hemp Plant which has been in the works for over a year, two car washes on the north and south sides of towns and a 56-room hotel to name a few, she said.
Before Lovington Main-Street Board Vice President Chuck Johnson presented this year’s awards for “Heart of Main Street” and the “St. Gustopher” award, LMS Executive Director Mara Salcido said 2020 was a trying time, but LMS was able to put business first and combine efforts with the LCC to do so. Such as with the Local Innovator’s Institute food truck program, Stay Local Strong gift card program, and helping business create an online presence.
“2020 changed our community,” Salcido said. “However, it has also reminded us of the resiliency of Loving-ton.”
Franco then presented the St. Gustopher award for the resident who went above and beyond. This year, the recipients are teenagers — Reydezel Salcido and the National Honor Society.
“The kids this year have really stepped up,” Franco told the News-Sun. “Usually we have one individual that really steps up and helps with us our events but the kids stepped up this year and helped up. So we thought they deserved something this year.”
The “Heart of MainStreet” award winner was then announced to be One Way Graphics. Johnson thanked One Way Graphics for stepping up in 2020, “support shop locals,” and never turning down last-minute jobs.
“They really stepped up in the last couple years,” MainStreet Board President Melinda Franco told the News-Sun. “They’re there whenever we need them, for whatever we need them. They participate in all our campaigns and just help out.”
LCC President Leslie Boldt then spoke about how the chamber has worked to help the community in 2020, like with the Stay Local Strong gift card program which brought more than $12,000 back to the community, and gave more than 5,000 face masks to businesses for customers and employees, along with a virtual shop-a-thon to help local businesses.
It all wrapped up with the Boldt awarding Western Commerce Bank with LCC’s “Business of the Year.” Western Commerce Bank was able to help with more than 100 loans worth approximately $18 million during 2020 for small businesses.
“We’re just really happy to have been able to assist small businesses in these difficult times we are all having,” Western Commerce Bank Division President of Lea County Mike Hoyl told the News-Sun. “We were glad to be able to do it and be able to assist and help.”