The Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Boots & Bling returned to a sold-out crowd Saturday night at the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel. It marked the first time the event was held since before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

Chamber President/CEO Jerry Schalow welcomed the crowd by announcing more than 30% growth over the past year. “We’ve significantly grown year after year,” he said. “As a matter of fact, last year we added 123 new members. It was a really exciting year coming out of the pandemic. In addition to that, last year we moved into our own building … that puts the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber in the top 3% of all chambers in the nation that has their own building.”

Schalow also noted general business growth in Rio Rancho. “You see a lot of new businesses come to to Rio Rancho and the West Side, Corrales, Bernalillo. We’ve also seen a number of different businesses expand and grow. We’re going to continue focusing on those areas,” he said.

“Enchanted Hills, you’re going to see completely full here very quickly. It’s 100% leased, so we’ll see a lot of new building.

“On top of that, we have two additions that are rounding the corner as well. The city of Rio Rancho has taken over the old Mattress Firm facility over there and they’re going to have a new community space and a new library. That’s an outstanding commitment to that area,” Schalow said. “On top of that they broke ground recently on the block, which is going to be a game-changer for all of Rio Rancho.”

He credited all of this development to Turtle Mountain bringing a location to Enchanted Hills.

Schalow also spoke on a program called Sandoval’s Employed Workforce, found at “What we’ll be doing is we’re there to support, help and fill as many vacant positions as possible,” Schalow said. “In 2023, we want to fill every position so that you can keep growing, we can keep adding as we have more businesses, more economic growth. This is a primary focus of ours in 2023.

“Another area that we’re proud to be focused in on at the chamber, with our board of directors, is career technical education,” he added, making note of the new building the Rio Rancho School District acquired for the program. “That building is made to fix our workforce problems of the future.” He also noted CNM’s decision  to move its auto repair and electric vehicle program from Albuquerque to Rio Rancho.

After Schalow spoke, 2022 board chair Alice Brousseau, vice president and CFO of French Funerals & Cremation, introduced Dr. Stacey Goldstein Dwyer, CEO of GD Psych Services, who is taking the role for 2023.

The chamber also handed out several awards to members at Boots & Bling.

• Nonprofit of the Year: Loving Thunder Therapeutic Riding

• Volunteer of the Year: LeAndra Arias

• New Business of the Year: Turtle Mountain North (Enchanted Hills)

• Small Business of the Year: Slate Street Billiards

• Large Business of the Year: Sandoval Regional Medical Center — UNM Health