The concept of a regional planning and development organization evolved in the mid 1960’s due to a growing recognition on the part of local, state and federal officials of two basic trends. First, it was realized that the federal government role in intergovernmental affairs was expanding rapidly. The growth of federal regulations, at the time, had been rivaled only by the expansion of federal financial aid programs. Secondly, local leaders from small and rural communities began to recognize the need for planning and development management assistance on a “shared services” basis.
In order to increase local governments’ understanding of federal programs and to provide these planning and development management services on a regional basis, the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District (SNMEDD) was formed in 1971. The agency’s first Executive Director was Nick J. Pappas. The office of the SNMEDD was established in Roswell. At that time, the SNMEDD, along with the U.S. Department of Commerce-Economic Development Administration and the State of New Mexico, drew up Joint Powers Agreements with the municipal and county governments of Chaves, Eddy, Lea, Lincoln and Otero counties. The regional planning organization became an instrumentality of its local government members. It has never been a state or federal agency. A local Board of Directors comprised of elected officials representing the local governments in southeastern New Mexico has always been the policy body which sets the direction and work program for the agency.
New Mexico established seven planning districts throughout the State under the Regional Planning Act of New Mexico of 1965. The SNMEDD/COG represents the southeastern quadrant of the State–Regional Planning District VI. The SNMEDD is one of several hundred similar Economic Development Districts and/or Councils of Governments established throughout the United States.