FARMINGTON — Webb Automotive Group Inc. donated $25,000 last week to Four Corners Economic Development, giving the recently formed organization a boost in its fundraising efforts.

Perry Webb, president of Webb Automotive, said economic development is important to Farmington's future.

"There are a lot of really fine people in Farmington working on the initiative," he said. "A lot of people love Farmington and want to see it flourish."

Webb's gift, announced Thursday, adds to previous donations from San Juan Regional Medical Center and Public Service Company of New Mexico. Those organizations joined the economic development organization at $50,000 each.

"The fundraising is going OK," said Sally Burbridge, chairwoman of Four Corners Economic Development. "I think we knew it was going to take a little bit. Part of the whole thing is education - why does it matter?"

She added, "It's really investing in the community."

Burbridge presented to the Aztec Chamber of Commerce on Thursday in hopes of adding new members and drumming up donations.

Board members of the area's previous economic development organization, San Juan Economic Development Service, voted in April to change the name to Four Corners Economic Development, also known as 4CED.

4CED hopes to raise $500,000, mostly from private-sector sources, for its first year of operation. A fundraising total to date was not immediately available.

"I wouldn't say we're there yet," said Burbridge, who is also mayor of Aztec.


"We've got a lot of work to do."

At the top of 4CED's to-do list is defining the job qualifications and criteria for the group's first CEO. Burbridge hopes to hire a leader for 4CED in coming months.

"It takes a different skill set to start an organization, to be the first CEO," she said.

4CED aims to attract so-called "base industry" jobs to diversify the economy. Its predecessor, SJEDS, was formed in 1989.

New Mexico's unemployment rate improved, in figures released Friday, to 6.5 percent in August, according to seasonally adjusted data. That was down from 6.6 percent in July and 7.5 percent a year earlier, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

Data for the Farmington area will be released later this week.

Statewide, educational and health services grew by 3,000 jobs, while leisure and hospitality added 2,300. The mining industry added 1,000 jobs.

Government payrolls contracted by 5,800 jobs from a year ago. Professional and business services fell 5,700 jobs, while the construction industry lost 3,000 jobs.

Part of 4CED's goal is to diversify employment in the Farmington area to insulate the local economy from the boom-and-bust cycle of the volatile energy industries that provide thousands of jobs here.

Webb said he agrees with that goal.

"Our family has always been interested in the economic development of Farmington and its diversification," Webb said.

Last year, Webb Automotive gave $20,000 to local Boys and Girls Clubs.