FARMINGTON — Four Corners Economic Development Inc. has chosen three finalists, one of whom will become its first chief executive.

The finalists will be in Farmington on Thursday and Friday for a series of tours, interviews and receptions with members of the group's executive board.

"The candidates represent a broad variety of experiences and accomplishments ranging from private business ownership and operations to top-level economic development management," Sally Burbridge, board chairwoman of the organization, said in a prepared statement Friday.

"They also encompass a varied set of skills, any of which would be an asset to our current efforts in economic development for the Four Corners region," she said.

Burbridge said in an interview she could not identify the finalists. She said 4CED hopes to have a chief executive in place by April 1.

"I'm truly looking forward to having someone in place to take the reins and get some things jump-started," she said.

The finalists were selected from a pool of approximately 45 applicants. The 4CED executive board had extended an earlier deadline for applications.

The finalists will tour Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield, and areas of the county primed for economic development, Burbridge said.

4CED's chief executive will be charged with attracting new businesses and retaining existing companies and the jobs they provide. The CEO is also expected to take the lead in fundraising for the group.


4CED was created in July 2012 to replace San Juan Economic Development Service.

The group was overhauled and expanded as business leaders sought to improve economic development efforts in the area and bring in more private-sector funding.

When the group was formed, the steering committee set a goal of attracting 500 jobs a year to San Juan County.

The area has been buffeted by declining natural-gas drilling and other economic headwinds.

Economic development leaders have long sought to diversify the county's economy, which is heavily reliant on natural-gas production and coal mining.

A study commissioned by a group of local business leaders identified six fields of business that could grow in Farmington and the surrounding county: energy and manufacturing, tourism, health care, agriculture, education and location-neutral work such as working from home.

In addition to Burbridge, who owns a small business, Growth Potential, and serves as mayor of Aztec, the board has six other members.

The other members are Jim Henderson, president emeritus of San Juan College and a former county commissioner; state Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Farmington; Ken Hare, a Bloomfield-area farmer and rancher and a college board member; Steve Dunn, drilling and production manager at Merrion Oil & Gas Co.; John Byrom, president and CEO of oil and gas producer D.J. Simmons Inc. and Toni Pendergrass, president of San Juan College.

Chuck Slothower may be reached at; 505-564-4638. Follow him on Twitter