ALICE, Texas — A former mayor in Alice, Texas, is now in charge of the Alice and Jim Wells County Economic Development Corporation.

Larry Martinez was the mayor of Alice when the oil industry started pulling out of the area. He realized that the economy and the surrounding area needed to diversify, and now he has the chance to help make that happen.

"We are selling our community, not only me, but our elected officials. Our mayor, our judge, all the people in Alice. We are the people who are selling it," Martinez said.

According to Martinez, he is working closely with County and City leaders to come up with an actual plan to diversify the economy. His plan includes looking for state and federal grants to help make the change.

"Hopefully within the next year or year and a half. It takes sometimes the gathering of a lot of data, officials getting everybody together. That's what my job is going to be, is we're bringing everybody together," Martinez said.

A recent housing market strategy study focused on Jim Wells County, and Martinez feels it is going to help in mapping out the diversification plan.

"Distribution is also a strong point. If we've got goods that are being produced from Mexico, whether it's agricultural or manufacturing goods, where are those goods getting shipped to and where are those distribution centers? We think we can capitalize off of that," Martinez said.

One of the trends that Martinez pointed out is that the healthcare industry has surpassed the oil field industry in Alice as far as jobs. He said he hopes to see more healthcare companies like the Premier Assisted Living Facility opening up around the area.

"We just opened up so eventually we'll have up to 90 employees here. Currently we have about 20 to 25 people. We're still going to be doing lots of hiring in the near future for registered nurses, LVN's, CNA's, of course housekeeping, maintenance, the whole works," said Felix Martinez Jr., executive director of the Premier Assisted Living Facility in Alice.

Lash and Salon has been opened for several years, and the business has been good but could be better. Owner Bianca Torres hopes that part of the economic diversification plan includes doing something to bring businesses back to downtown Alice.

"Maybe revamp downtown. Make it look, you know, fresh. New. Then we would attract more people here in town," Torres said.

City leaders also looked at the possibility of building a sports complex to attract more tourists to town.

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