In 2021, El Paso Electric (EPE) in partnership with Infrastructure Investments Fund (IIF) created the New Mexico Economic Development (NMED) Grant. The funds are held in partnership with the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and a three-member board of advisors. The fund has awarded $3.0 million since its inception and continues to drive regional growth and economic vibrancy in southern New Mexico. Each year, $1 million is provided to economic development organizations focused on job creation, import and export business creation and entrepreneurship.

The fund is governed by three independent board advisers which includes members John Hummer, Jerean Camunez Hutchinson and Dr. Andrea Tawney. John Hummer will be completing his term by the end of 2023.  Jerean Camunez Hutchinson will continue throughout 2023 and 2024, while Dr. Andrea Tawney will serve until 2026.  This year, the advisers have welcomed a new colleague to the table – Brandy Darden.  Ms. Darden will serve on the NMED board of advisers for the next three years.


Brandy KayLynn Darden is the Market President for Western Heritage Bank in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Her previous experience has included Vice President/Market Manager, Century Bank, Las Cruces, New Mexico 2014-2017; Vice President/Commercial Lender, Century Bank, Las Cruces, New Mexico 2011-2014; Vice President/Commercial Lender, State National Bank/BBVA Compass, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2003-2011; and Assistant Vice President/Commercial Lender, Colonial Bank, Reno, Nevada, 1999-2003.


Brandy has a master’s in Agricultural Economics and Economics and a bachelor’s in Agricultural Economics and Ag Business from New Mexico State University where she is a proud Aggie supporter. She is also a graduate of the Western States School of Banking Graduate in which she graduated with honors.  Brandy has served throughout the community in such roles as President of the Las Cruces Public School Foundation; Executive Board and Board Member of The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce; Board Member for Families and Youth, Inc., Board Member for The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Heritage Foundation; and an active member of the Independent Community Bankers Association of New Mexico.


Brandy has two outstanding daughters that have been active in 4-H and showing pigs throughout the fair system in New Mexico and Texas. She brings a wealth of community knowledge to the New Mexico Economic Development board of advisors.


A zoom meeting will be held on November 30th at 1:00 pm, per the Open Meeting Act of New Mexico, for applicants as well as the public to learn more about the grant and those behind it. The Economic Development Grant meeting will provide an overview of 2023 projects focused on job creation, business support, and general economic growth achievement while also opening the 2024 grant cycle. This meeting will be held in person at the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico offices at 2640 El Paseo Rd. Attendees can also attend the meeting via Zoom with the following information:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 879 9366 1758

Passcode: 226904