New Mexico has been struggling for decades to diversify its economy, wean itself off of federal government spending and reducing its heavy reliance on the oil and gas industry where the state gets nearly 40% of its revenue from. When the oil and gas industry booms, New Mexico becomes flush with money and when it busts, the state revenues plummet causing financial crisis.
With $3.7 billion In Federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act Funding, the allocation of $478 million in federal pandemic aid out of $1.1 Billion in pandemic relief and the $1.6 billion of projected windfall from oil an gas revenues, the state’ s decades long financial woes may finally be coming to an end. Notwithstanding, the state is still too reliant on oil and gas revenues. For that reason, the next 4 years of government expenditure of billions may prove to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to diversify the state’s economy.
This blog article is an in-depth analysis on diversifying New Mexico’s economy over the next four years concentrating on the 10 industries that could accomplish that goal.
INDUSTRIES TO WATCH
There are 10 sectors or industries that have been that have the best shot at diversifying New Mexico’s economy. Those industries are:
Film & Television
Value Added Agriculture
Recreational Cannabis And Hemp Industries
During the last 3 years, some significant progress has been made by the State in diversifying New Mexico’s economy in 7 of the 9 areas targeted by the state for economic development. The setbacks and the progress in those areas are worth noting:
FILM & TELEVISION
On July 29, it was reported that the New Mexico Film Office announced that 2022 has been a record setting year for TV shows and movies shot in New Mexico. The film office also and it expects those numbers to keep going up, even as other states are beginning to offer the same type of incentives that New Mexico offers. According the film office, the industry brought in $855 million this year. This is a whopping increase of $228.9 million over fiscal year 2021. This year alone, big productions like AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and Focus Film “Vengeance” were all shot in New Mexico. A record 109 different productions brought in a record total of $855 million of spending.
New Mexico’s film incentives is one of the major reasons for the increase. The state’s tax incentives include a 25% to 35% production tax credit for film, TV, commercials, documentaries, music videos, video games, animation, postproduction and more.
As New Mexico brings in more revenue from the film industry, 2 other states are trying to do the same. Oklahoma passed a $30 million tax incentive to any films shot in their state and Arizona’s film incentives come in higher than New Mexico’s with a $125 million cap. But offering tax incentives is not the only key to success. The state’s film incentive is highly competitive, but it also hinges on hiring New Mexico residents and sourcing from New Mexico businesses. A big asset for the state is the availability of a highly skilled crew base.
Governor Grisham had this to say:
“Another record year for film and television industry spending makes it as clear as ever that New Mexico is the place to be for film and TV [productions]. It’s no surprise that New Mexico cities continue to top the list of the best places to be a filmmaker — New Mexico is the place to be for film and TV. … Our work to support and expand New Mexico’s film infrastructure continues to yield real results: a booming industry that provides countless jobs and economic opportunity in communities across the state. Filmmakers take note — New Mexico wants you!”
Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia J. Keyes had this to say:
“New Mexico is now front and center for film and television production and that means jobs, private sector investment, job training, and economic growth for communities and small businesses across the entire state. ”
According to the State’s Economic Development Department, the most recent data also shows a record 22% increase of the number of industry worker hours in New Mexico from Fiscal Year 21 and a new high of 109 for total productions filmed in the state consisting of 55 film productions and 54 television productions.
For the last decade, Albuquerque and Santa Fe have been named by MovieMaker as top cities for film professionals to live and work. Albuquerque has held the No. 1 ranking for big cities for 4 consecutive years while Santa Fe has been in the top 5 for small cities and towns during the last decade.
FILM INCENTIVE CREDITS
In was in 2019 that Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law legislation that funded and gave tax incentives to companies to collaborate with the state through partnership agreements. The 2019 legislation raised the 2011 cap on what the state could pay out to film and TV productions from $50 million to $110 million per year. It also authorizing the spending of up to $225 million to pay down an accumulated backlog in film incentives.
The 2 biggest partnerships with a 10-year plan are with Netflix and NBC Universal. Both companies are required to work with the state to develop and strengthen workforce development and job training in order to get the film tax credits.
NETFLEX, NBCUNIVERSAL AND 828 PRODUCTIONS
Since the enactment of the film tax credits, Netflex and NBCUniversal have announce major projects and investment in the state. Netflix announced a 300-acre expansion in the state with a commitment to spend another $1 billion over 10 years, doubling the company’s original commitment to the state.
NBCUniversal also opened a production facility in Albuquerque with a commitment to $500 million in direct production spending over the next 10 years and 330 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Bottom of Form
According to the New Mexico Department of Tax and Revenue, of the $100 million cap, the state has paid out $47.1 million.
On August 13, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that California-based 828 Productions is relocating its headquarters to Las Cruces joining Netflix and NBCUniversal as film partners within the state. 828 Productions plans to invest $75 million to build a 300,000-square-foot studio and 20-acre back lot over the next six years, creating at least 100 high-paying jobs in Las Cruces. 828 Productions has purchased a 7,500-square-foot office building in downtown Las Cruces. It will be used for training, post-production and visual effects work. It is also hiring for key positions.
828 Productions is a full-service film finance and production company. Bottom of Form
828 Productions has finalized negotiations on an additional 35 acres of land in downtown Las Cruces, with existing structures that will provide soundstage and set construction space. The film company intends to shoot its first production in the new Las Cruces Studio before the end of 2022 and plans to spend $350 million on productions over the next decade.
The state will be giving $3 million to 828 Productions from the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) job creation fund when the company meets its job target of at least 100 full-time year-round employees. Las Cruces for its part is considering allocating $897,000 in local LEDA funding through capital appropriations. Up to $2.8 million has been set aside by Las Cruces City Council specifically for cinematic infrastructure. The funding is contingent upon the City Council approving and finalization of a project participation agreement. If approved, the city of Las Cruces would be the fiscal agent for the economic assistance. Las Cruces has had a major bump in productions due to the rural uplift credit.
From July 2021 through May 2022, the area had 23 projects with a total of $7.9 million that went back into the local economy. In the previous fiscal year, there were nine productions. The number of productions matches the number of fiscal year 2019 for the Las Cruces area.
Governor Lujan Grisham had this to say about 828 Productions moving to New Mexico:
“New Mexico is seeing a record number of productions from the film and television industry and all-time high spending, and it’s no accident. … Not only are we investing in studios like 828 Productions, we are expanding industry workforce training with a new film school in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.”
Economic Development Department secretary Alicia J. Keyes had this to say:
“828 Studios chose Las Cruces because of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s commitment to film and television job growth. … This is an industry that is highly mobile and can locate anywhere. They are coming to Las Cruces to create jobs here because we have put in place forward-thinking investments that are helping this industry thrive.”
State senator and Film Las Cruces co-founder and president Jeff Steinborn, had this to say:
“We’re thrilled to have 828 Productions making this investment in our community to create a full-service film production studio and backlot. … 828 Studios will help elevate Las Cruces as one of the top film production hotspots in New Mexico and the United States, and showcase our excellent film incentives, diverse locations, talented crew, and rich Southwestern culture.”
Todd Lundbohm, founder and CEO of 828 Productions, had this to say about his company’s move to Las Cruces:
“We were looking for a home for 828 Studios and fell in love with Las Cruces. … This is a town on the rise, with a wealth of opportunity just waiting to be tapped into. At 828, we’re passionate about story and film as an art form, but we’re equally passionate about creating a studio environment that inspires positivity behind the scenes as well. For us, it’s about putting down roots, and New Mexico, specifically Las Cruces, gives us the ideal place to do that.”
The link to quoted news source material is here
RURAL UPLIFT CREDIT
In 2019, the state enacted the “rural uplift” credit. The rural uplift credit gives a production a 5% incentive to film at least 60 miles outside of the Bernalillo and Santa Fe County corridor. The result of the credit has been dramatic.
Rural communities in the state saw a 660% increase in direct spending from the industry, up from $6.5 million in fiscal year 2021 to nearly $50 million in fiscal year 2022.
The rural uplift credit enacted by the legislature in 2019 gives a production company a 5% incentive to film at least 60 miles outside of the Bernalillo and Santa Fe County corridor. The state’s tax incentives include a 25% to 35% production tax credit for film, TV, commercials, documentaries, music videos, video games, animation, post-production and more.
Las Cruces especially saw a major bump in productions due to the rural uplift credit. From July 2021 through May 2022, the Las Cruces area had 23 production projects in the Las Cruces area that resulted in a direct spend of $7.9 million into the local economy. In the previous fiscal year, there were 9 productions.
Jonathon Sepp, the film liaison with Film Las Cruces, had this to say:
“The additional 5% bump from the rural uplift credit has been an integral component to attracting productions to the Las Cruces area and has become a staple in our marketing efforts. … With the success of the rural uplift, Film Las Cruces has been able to attract more productions to our region than ever before.”
Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director, said with the number of successful shows and films, the state has established itself as being film friendly and a place for skilled crews. Dodson had this to say:
“The Film Office continues to tout New Mexico, not only as a diverse and forward-thinking state, but a place where memorable, award-winning productions can call home over many seasons”
Links to related and quoted news source material are here:
20 YEARS OF FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY GROWTH
Over the last 20 years, the film and television industry has steadily grown and been one of the few bright spots for the state, especially during the great recession, when it comes to economic development and diversifying the state’s economy which is very dependent on federal spending.
The New Mexico Film Office reports that in in 2003 the industry had direct spending in New Mexico was $7 million. In fiscal year 2019, direct spending reached a record high of $525.5 million. According to state estimates, Netflix will generate an estimated $344 million in taxes to the state, local school districts, and other local governments.
It was in 2019 that the film industry began to seriously emerge to be one of the biggest hopes for Albuquerque and New Mexico to diversify both the city and states economies. The unmistakable evidence was the immense investment in the city and state by NBC Universal and the Netflix purchase of Albuquerque studios as the site of a new production hub. Both announced NBC and Netflix announced opening film production facilities in Albuquerque.
It was on June 24, the Lujan Grisham Administration announced that the New Mexico film industry has brought in $623 million in what is known as a “direct spend” with one week left to go in the fiscal year. The film industry broke the record of $525.5 million set in fiscal year 2019. In fiscal year 2020, the film industry had a direct spend of $386.8 million despite the closure of the state during the pandemic. NBCUniversal has been able to kept production going during the pandemic.
According to the New Mexico Film Office, there have been 28 productions announced by the film office during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The number of New Mexico crew hired for the 28 productions is 3,302 with 986 New Mexico actors within those productions. The biggest impact is with background actors, which is 7,963 New Mexicans hired.
Contributing to the record-breaking year, there are film production public-private partnerships with NBCUniversal and Netflix. Both have signed a 10-year commitment to bring film and TV projects to the state.
The link to quoted news source is here:
RECREATIONAL CANNIBUS INDUSTRY
On March 31, 2021 in a special session of the New Mexico legislature, the state became the 18 state to legalize recreational cannabis. New rules and regulations governing licensing, production and sales of recreational marijuana how now been fully implemented. Commercial sales are to begin on April 1. The new industry will bring new tax dollars, new commercial activity and law enforcement challenges to traditionally conservative eastern New Mexico, which is sometimes referred to as “Little Texas.”
Under the new law, there is a 12% statewide excise tax, with the state’s gross receipts tax rate, which varies by city and county which, is levied on top of the state and local taxes. Any adults age 21 and older with valid photo identification can buy recreational cannabis. The new law and regulations allows some licensed dispensaries to have established cannabis consumption areas. And there are no limits on home consumption , but using cannabis is not allowed in public places. The state law prohibits commercial consumers from possessing more than 2 ounces of cannabis, or 16 grams of cannabis extract, outside of their place of residence. There are no limits on how much cannabis can be kept inside one’s home out of public view.
Under New Mexico’s new law, New Mexico cities and counties cannot opt out, or bar cannabis dispensaries from opening in their jurisdictions. Local governments are also prohibited from making it illegal to transport cannabis products on public roadways, provided the individuals in possession are not under the influence and are also complying with other aspects of the law. Cities and counties do have the authority to set rules governing the location, density limits and hours of operation for marijuana retailers. Many cities and counties, including Alburquerque and Bernalillo County have adopted ordinances establishing their own local rules.
Duke Rodriguez, CEO and president of Ultra Health Inc., the state’s largest medical cannabis producer, said at upward % of New Mexico’s legal cannabis sales could end up being made by Texans crossing state lines to participate in the state’s newest industry. Much of the benefits of recreational marijuana sales will come from Texas, which unlike Arizona and Colorado has not legalized recreational cannabis, and has large population centers like Amarillo, Lubbock and El Passo within easy driving distance to New Mexico towns and cities such as Clayton, Clovis, Texico, Hobbs and Las Cruces. Small communities such AS San Jon, a small town in Quay County that is less than 20 miles from the Texas border will likely see huge profits.
A report conducted last year by Massachusetts-based Cannabis Public Policy Consulting projected New Mexico’s fledgling cannabis market to hit $782 million in legal sales by 2026, a figure that includes tourist and cross-border purchases. The report also estimated that New Mexico’s regulated cannabis industry will supply 20% of the marijuana products purchased within a 200-mile zone from the state’s boundaries.
As a result, the recreational cannabis industry offers significant promise from both an economic standpoint and the potential for marijuana processing and manufacturing facilities in any New Mexico community. Then there are the challenges it will bring like enforcing laws against impaired driving.
HEALTHY SALES REPORTED
According to the state’s Cannabis Control Division The state’s cannabis industry in August brought in $24.2 million in adult-use sales, a new record high, surpassing July’s adult-use sales of $23.5 million.
Overall sales numbers, which includes medical cannabis transactions, stood at nearly $40.7 million in August, according to the data. That number is up from July’s overall sales of $40.3 million, which at the time was also a record high.
Albuquerque did nearly $8 million in adult-use sales and $6.6 million in medical sales, according to the data. That number is up on the adult-use side from July, but down on the medical side by more than $250,000. And Albuquerque hasn’t done more than $8 million in adult-use sales since April.
Santa Fe brought in $1.9 million in recreational sales, slightly more than in July. And they also did about the same in medical sales — $1.6 million — as in July, according to the data.
Rio Rancho sold more medical cannabis than recreational, bringing in $805,783 on that end and $749,385 in adult-use sales, according to CCD.
Las Cruces took in $1.8 million in recreational sales and nearly $1.5 million in medical sales. Sunland Park did more than $1.3 million in adult-use sales and Hobbs did nearly $1.3 million in sales, according to the data.
Carlsbad did $794,310 in adult-use sales and about $370,620 in medical sales. Clovis brought in $674,106 in recreational sales. Anthony saw $442,017 in adult-use sales, according to the data.
“New Mexico cannabis retailers sold $23.5 million in recreational cannabis in July. That’s more than the state’s retailers have ever sold in a month. That puts July’s cannabis sales as the new record for most revenue generated in a month. Previously, April of 2022 had the most sales. That month — the first month of legal sales — retailers sold just over $22 million worth of cannabis. Now, summer sales passed that previous record. Albuquerque-based retailers sold more than $7.6 million worth of recreational cannabis in July. Santa Fe retailers sold over $1.8 million worth.”
Overall, border towns, including Texico, Roswell, Portales and Clayton, made up more than a 30% of overall recreational sales, according to the data. Salgado said Pecos Valley opened a second location in Hobbs last month and that they expect to open their Artesia location in the next couple weeks.
Links to other quoted news source materials are here:
A BUDDING AGRICULTURAL CROP TO RIVAL ALFALFA
It was in 2017 that the New Mexico Legislature enacted the legalization and cultivation on hemp in the state. Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” vetoed the bill. The veto was overturned on procedural grounds in spring 2018. In 2019 New Mexico authorities finalized hemp rules in time for farmers to produce the state’s first legal harvest in 2019. The Corona Virus pandemic then hit New Mexico with a vengeance and the industry was placed on hold.
As the state and nation show signs of rebounding from the CORONA virus-induced economic slump, the hemp industry in New Mexico is poised to make a major stride in growth and development.
Hemp belongs to the same plant species as marijuana but is legally defined as having less than 0.3 percent THC. That’s a trace amount compared to cannabis, whose THC content can be more than 15 percent. The prime active ingredient in hemp is cannabidiol, or CBD, which comes from the plant’s leaves and flowers and is thought to have medicinal properties.
CBD is increasingly used in health and beauty products. Other parts of the plant have various uses. Hemp seeds, which contain no CBD, can be eaten raw or ground up for protein powder and dairy substitutes. Oil extracted from these seeds is used in skin care products. Fiber separated from the stalks can be used for clothing, bags, rope, beauty products, building materials, paper and bioplastics. The woody inner stalks, known as hurds, can be formed into building materials, mulch and animal bedding.
Agriculture is deeply rooted in New Mexico and in the top 10 of its industries. New Mexico is home to 23,800 farms and 43.9 million acres of farmland. The states top commodities include beef cattle and calves, pecans, hay, sheep, onions, chiles, greenhouses and nursery products, cotton, and corn. New Mexico is a major alfalfa hay producer, with 190,000 acres of the crop harvested in 2017. A legume hay, alfalfa is an excellent source of good-quality protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Hay generated $109 million in cash receipts.
Hemp as an agricultural cash crop has the potential to immediately rival alfalfa as a cash crop in New Mexico. Hemp is a good crop for a desert state like New Mexico because it consumes up to 75 % less water than alfalfa and corn. … Statewide, 31 growers have licenses for indoor operations, totaling 9.74 million square feet, and four growers have licenses for outdoor cultivation, totaling 37.7 acres, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
Jill Browning, chairwoman of the New Mexico Hemp Association, has said the hemp industry will flourish on its own when the fiber is used more in clothing, construction materials and to replace plastics.
State and city officials have been encouraged between the Spaceport and companies like Virgin Galactic moving forward with test flights. State officials say there’s even more companies on the way.
On Thursday, November 12, 2020, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission approved the new site plan for the “Orion Center.” During the November 12th press conference announcing the development, Albuquerque Economic Development Director Synthia Jaramillo said the Orion Project represented a real opportunity to attract development from the commercial space industry. According to Jaramillo:
“The global space economy is projected to be worth $3 trillion by 2045.”
Jaramillo cited Albuquerque’s “engineering-savvy” workforce, low property tax rates, which are some of the lowest in the country, and tax deductions that target the aviation and aerospace industries. In addition, the city boasts “large swaths of vacant land, unrestricted air space and low population density.”
On December 29, the Albuquerque Journal editorialize that New Mexico should make space industry its “economy moonshot.” The editorial said in part:
“The nation has entered a new phase of space-related opportunity. The Space Foundation estimates the global space economy expanded by 55% over the past decade, reaching $447 billion in 2020. It’s expected to grow to between $1 trillion and $3 trillion over the next 20-30 years.
The U.S. and world economies are already fundamentally dependent on space technology and operations to maintain basic societal functions. By synchronizing and linking up power grids and communication networks, space technology supplies data to enable city planning, agriculture, public health, transportation and more. The next phase of developing space assets could produce new wonders: harnessing solar energy and beaming photovoltaic energy to Earth or low-gravity manufacturing of biotechnology products.
New Mexico has a leg up to tap the immense economic potential of space. Space-related endeavors at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico and the state’s national laboratories have attracted an impressive array of companies to provide support services to experienced federal entities. The future of the emerging global space industry hinges on such public-private partnerships, according to the third annual “State of the Space Industrial Base” report issued in November. It was co-authored by Col. Eric Felt, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate at KAFB.
New Mexico has played a key role in preparing and disseminating the reports. New Space NM, an industry alliance, has hosted two conferences to collect participant input in the past two reports and is now helping to monitor progress on adopting a “whole of government” approach for space industrial development.
And, with regard to public-private partnerships, New Mexico appears ahead of the curve in business development. The Dec. 20 “Building the space industry ecosystem” in the Journal’s Business Outlook enumerates the myriad incubators, accelerators and tech hubs in place to build up New Mexico’s fast-growing commercial space sector.
This all plays to the state’s strengths. New Mexico has a history and synergy of military bases, national labs, research universities and private aerospace enterprises — plus a one-of-a-kind spaceport and the only ground-to-infinity protected airspace outside of the White House.”
On March 10, 2022 Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that Universal Hydrogen has chosen a 50-acre parcel of property northeast of the passenger terminal at the Albuquerque International Sunport to build a manufacturing and distribution center in New Mexico with a goal of hiring hundreds of employees in Albuquerque. The location includes access to a runway and the potential future reclamation of a rail spur south of the Sunport.
Universal Hydrogen is a manufacturer and distributor of hydrogen storage modules, assembles airplane retrofit kits and performs aftermarket maintenance services, and manage administrative activities. Universal Hydrogen is a company with a mission to enable carbon-free fuel and reduce the climate impact of air travel.
New Mexico will be at the heart of the company’s mission to decarbonize hard-to-abate greenhouse gas emissions in aviation, ground transportation, and heavy industry to help the United States meet the Paris Agreement goals. The company also has facilities in California, Washington State, and Toulouse, France.
Universal Hydrogen will spend one to two years on the planning and construction of its New Mexico facilities, with a goal of commencing full-scale manufacturing by 2024. It anticipates investing over $254 million into New Mexico and aims to hire 500 employees over the next seven years. These jobs will include highly skilled engineers and composite technicians with attractive salaries and benefits.
The State of New Mexico is pledging $10 million from the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) job-creation fund. The City of Albuquerque will serve as the fiscal agent and is considering providing additional funding from its local economic development fund. The construction project alone is expected to generate over 1,200 jobs, and the manufacturing and distribution center is expected to have an economic impact of over $700 million over the next 10 years.
The economic assistance is pending support from the Albuquerque City Council and will be paid out as Universal Hydrogen reaches economic development benchmarks as agreed to in a pending Project Participation Agreement. Universal Hydrogen is also pursuing federal programs to help scale its manufacturing and production capabilities.
Gov. Lujan Grisham had this to say:
“This project puts New Mexico and Universal Hydrogen at the center of the global effort to decarbonize transportation and aviation in particular … Hydrogen, solar, wind, and alternative energy are job-rich industries and New Mexico’s partnerships with these companies are part of a forward-thinking model to create a robust and diversified economy, while being a part of the solution when it comes to a changing climate.”
Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes had this to say:
“With two federal Department of Energy research labs and a skilled workforce, the future for new, innovative energy technology is here in New Mexico.”
There is a major effort to bring high paying technology-based jobs to communities all across the state. New Mexico is making real progress in the area. A recent analysis by the Milken Institute found New Mexico alongside New Jersey saw the largest gains in science and technology workforce over the past 2 years.
On May 3, 2021, Intel Corporation announced it will be investing $3.5 billion to equip its New Mexico operations for the manufacturing of advanced semiconductor packaging technologies, including Foveros, Intel’s breakthrough 3D packaging technology. The multiyear investment is expected to create at least 700 high-tech jobs and 1,000 construction jobs and support an additional 3,500 jobs in the state. Planning activities began immediately, with construction expected to start in late 2021.
State officials are tapping into the international border with Mexico as a major economic opportunity. In recent months, the state announced major partnerships with at least three Taiwanese companies to set up shop in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. That includes Xxentria, which is a leading manufacturer of metal composites. Secretary Keyes had this to say:
“A lot of their heavy industry and manufacturing is going to be in Chihuahua and then we do the assembly in New Mexico, and also the headquarters. … And we’ve just hired a consultant for New Mexico that will be based in Taipei to help us with courting those Taiwanese companies and those Asian companies that potentially want to be on the border here.”
In the biosciences sector, more than a hundred new high-paying jobs are expected in Rio Rancho. The company Nature’s Toolbox specializes in bio-manufacturing to speed up the development of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. The average salary is $74,000.
NEW MEXICO NEEDS INFRASTRUCTURE
Stuart Rose is the founder of The BioScience Center, Fat Pipe New Mexico and Go-Station, Inc., a member of New Mexico Angels, and is an investor in multiple local startups including NTx Bio, Electric Playhouse, Wildlife Protection Management, Allerpops and mPowerTechnology and serves as a Board Member of New Mexico Community Capital and a Venture Partner of Tramway Ventures.
On March 9, the Albuquerque Journal published the following guest column written by Rose on the need for infrastructure as part of diversifying New Mexico’s economy:
“For years, New Mexico has been talking about trying to make our state’s economy less dependent on the oil and gas industry.
While there has been some progress, not much with real impact has materialized yet. Likely that’s because it’s not easy to do and, in fact, it’s not even clear what to do.
We’ve heard lots of talk from government officials about where we should focus — the biosciences, aerospace, film and TV, intelligent manufacturing, outdoor recreation, sustainable and green energy, sustainable and value-added agriculture, cybersecurity and global trade.
These are all worthwhile, and in my view, appropriate industries to target. They will create the bulk of the jobs and create the most wealth in the economic future of the world.
It is terrific that our state government has put in place a variety of incentives to reach companies in these key economic areas. But it won’t be enough. The reason is we don’t have an appropriate infrastructure that would allow these companies to develop and grow in New Mexico. We are missing critical pieces including:
— Incentives to developers to build spec buildings so that companies started or grown here or attracted to New Mexico have a place to move into without having a lengthy wait.
Understandably our incentives to date have focused on job creation. But now we’re at a stage where we need to go to the next step, specifically:
— Programs that would provide support to vendors that supply the target industries so that it’s easier for the companies to get what they need.
— Initiatives that would make it easier for companies to attract talent to our state. We know how great it is to live and work in New Mexico, but outsiders see it differently. One example might be an initiative that would help find jobs for trailing spouses, with another being to focus on creating clusters of companies in the same industry so that if someone loses their job in one company, there is another they can move to without having to relocate out of NM.
— Efforts to train younger workers and retrain older workers to be able to work in the targeted industries, and especially apprenticeship programs like those that have been very successful in Germany.
I applaud everyone’s actions and the trajectory New Mexico is taking. But it’s time for elected officials, the angels’ community, business leaders and economic developers to look at the entire picture as we plan New Mexico’s future for not only today but for future generations.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Election after election, we hear New Mexico politicians running for office at all levels and elected officials from both parties repeatedly point out that we routinely rank high on the bad lists of crime, hunger, poverty, and low on the good lists of income, child well-being, places to retire, quality of education and jobs.
There is an absolute need to concentrate on the identified industries by the state and AED, otherwise, within 20 years, if not sooner, virtually all of New Mexico will be nothing more than a dusty high desert state with more empty space, more ghost towns, beautiful vistas and sunshine and with no one wanting to live a lifetime here but be buried here. The only industries that will be expanding will be “assisted living” homes and funeral homes and cemeteries with New Mexico becoming the graveyard of lost opportunities, hopes and dreams for a better life and livelihood.