A strong economy benefits everyone.
It means families can be reunited as young people return home to a quality economy that provides not just jobs but careers and hope for the future.
It means families will be able to realize their dreams of homeownership; it means a strong education system that leads to college or career training for their children or a retirement that allows people to live with dignity and remain at home in New Mexico.
For New Mexico to succeed, we must transform our economy, jump-start job creation and position ourselves for future growth. Growing and diversifying the economy is a primary focus of my plan. Diversifying the economy needs to be much more than talk.
New Mexico has great, unharnessed potential.
Companies, as well as workers and their families, are naturally drawn to New Mexico for its scenic beauty. We have some of the most favorable weather in the nation and are rarely struck with major catastrophes resulting from floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. The dry, mild climate is an enormous competitive advantage over other states. New Mexico should leverage our advantages to the fullest extent.
But we need more than the natural attractors. We need to adopt proven, successful economic principles such as embracing the free market, creating more effective and efficient agencies and making a business-friendly environment that will foster job creation. This will create more and better employment opportunities for the people of New Mexico.
There are ample opportunities for business-labor-government partnerships that encourage a diversified, growing and sustainable economy.
Think of New Mexico’s economy as a three-legged stool: government, natural resources, and the private sector. Our task is to lengthen the short leg on the stool, which has historically been the private sector. Diversifying the private sector economy cannot continue to be just talk; we must begin now.
At the same time, we must continue to make sure our public sector jobs are appreciated and supported. The national labs, the bases, WIPP and a host of other agencies call New Mexico home. They are critical to our nation but they are also the source of good, high paying jobs in New Mexico.
Our resource-driven economy should be improved and modernized to make sure we are making the best possible use of our states advantages.
There are 7 distinct areas that New Mexico can harness to diversify and grow our economy:
- Silicon Mesa
- Value Added Production of our Resources
- Expand and Energize Tourism
- Achieve self-sufficiency in food production.
- Retirement destination
- Business Resiliency
- Silicon Mesa
- HIGH TECH: If we are to keep the best and brightest kids of the next generation in the state we will have to provide suitable careers for them. Our major research universities should partner with the National Labs to create a high tech incubator system that rivals the best programs in the county.
- We will develop a high tech component of the economy that utilizes a public-private partnership between our national labs, the research universities and our military research and development facilities which call New Mexico home.
- Efforts like GrowBio and other collaborative efforts have identified huge opportunities for New Mexico jobs in biotechnology, optics, photonics and other high tech industries. These opportunities must be pursued by a state that is open and inviting not only to new businesses but new industries.
- SPACEPORT AMERICA: The global attention that will be harvested by the initial launch of Richard Branson into sub-orbit could be the most anticipated and watched event in the history of humanity. We should use this milestone as a way to showcase New Mexico’s unique offerings when it comes to tourism, weather, and business. At the same time, we need a new strategy to earn the highest possible return on the state’s $200 million investment in Spaceport America. As the Spaceport grows as a tourism and business destination, we should also develop long-term strategies to market Albuquerque and Las Cruces as gateway cities to Spaceport America.
- EXPORT CONTRACTOR SERVICES AND TECHNOLOGY: Private sector companies have built a contractor base around our national labs and military research facilities that is unique in the United States. As national budgets decrease, there is an excellent opportunity for New Mexico’s companies to provide the most professional and cost-effective services in the world to the US Government. New Mexico should work directly with these companies to market their unique technical services to a global market and ensure the continued viability of this important segment of our local economy. Likewise, the energy economy in New Mexico has some of the world’s greatest expertise. New Mexico should concentrate on providing services around the globe to create a stronger economy here in the state.
- Reshoring: Beginning about 2010, companies that had been offshoring for decades began to look at returning to the US as costs escalated in the international marketplace. New Mexico should position itself to be where the companies relocate when they return to this country.
- Innovation: The key to building a sustainable private sector-oriented economy will be innovation and entrepreneurship. Encouraging an innovation ecosystem will be essential for enhancing prosperity and reducing poverty in our state. This ecosystem has numerous components.
- ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS: We have to recognize the role that our state’s anchor higher education and research & development institutions play in creating economic vitality. UNM, UNM+HSC and UNMH combined are the largest employer in our state. The global cities of the future will be places where higher education, business, and the cities they reside in collaborate to build a sustainable economy which will be fueled by innovation, business formation and global reach.
- JOB CREATION FUND: New Mexico needs a closing fund that allows us to attract business and compete with other states. There is no monopoly on competition, so when our neighbors embrace tactics like state-backed closing funds to help recruit employers, New Mexico should be doing the same.
- FILM INDUSTRY:
New Mexico has some of the most scenic vistas in the country that are natural attractors to the film industry. The state should actively pursue these high-quality jobs. Keeping our creative genius at home will benefit the entire state.
- VALUE ADDED PRODUCTION
New Mexico should concentrate on creating value-added production to use all of our precious resources rather than exporting them to create jobs in other states. Let’s establish manufacturing plants here to use our resources. The harvesting of a resource is the lowest economic activity in a production chain. Mining the copper, drilling for oil and gas and growing chile are all valuable economic activities but making copper wire, refining the oil, and canning the chile adds value and creates jobs that are generally higher paying. Houston is one of the richest cities in the country; in part because we ship our high-grade oil there to be refined, creating the thousands of jobs which bring much prosperity to Houston. We should build refineries here to use our oil to create better jobs here. Value-added production in food should be a leading industry for New Mexico.
New Mexico can facilitate the growth of this important industry. Travelers from around the world visit New Mexico to experience our natural beauty, rich heritage and unique cultures. New Mexico tourism should be promoted globally but we should pay special attention to opportunities close by like Mexico’s emerging middle class.The tourism industry should partner with the Native Americans to create robust travel experiences for every person entering the state as a tourist. The resulting increase in tourism dollars will benefit communities and businesses throughout the state.
- SPORTS TOURISM: Our great weather and existing tourism attractions in New Mexico make us a natural destination for families looking to participate in youth sports activities. The resulting tourism could drive economic activity for our state and region while also enhancing the quality of life in our own communities.
The first and most important aspect of sovereignty is a stable and internal source of food. Agriculture in New Mexico is an important part of our economy that should be expanded. We should give incentives to keep young families in agriculture. To achieve significant increases in agriculture we must learn from others. In the Middle Rio Grande we use 300,000-acre-feet of water to produce 3 percent of the food for 1 million people. Israel, which has a similar semi-arid climate, uses 100,000-acre-feet of water to produce 95% of the food for 8 million people. New Mexico should develop the blueprint to lead the United States to more effective use of this scarce resource.Estimates suggest that increasing our food production from 3% to 25% will create thousands of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in new business taxes revenue and $1.4 billion in additional economic growth.
- RETIREMENT DESTINATION
Retiring baby boomers from around the nation are looking for unique, affordable and hospitable places to retire. New Mexico’s climate, natural beauty and affordability should make us a favorite destination. Instead, we make choices which keep them from coming here. Our policy of taxing out of state pensions and social security benefits and military pensions (one of eight states that does this) is usually a deciding factor in retirees not locating here. These practices need to end immediately.New Mexico should follow the lead of other states with growing retiree populations by launching Certified Retirement Community programs.
- BUSINESS RESILIENCY
The impact of severe weather on global business is now seen as a major risk factor for the insurance industry. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Sandy and Katrina, as well as the Japan tsunami, resulted in billions of dollars of lost business productivity and interruption to supply chain activity. With its mild climate and lack of extreme weather events, New Mexico could become an ideal location for global businesses to establish operations that allow them to maintain their competitive advantage during extreme weather events or other natural disasters. New Mexico’s weather and affordable land should be a selling point for business resilience strategies.
Other factors that can help transform our economy
ATTRACT MORE ENTREPRENEURS
Offer in-state tuition to international STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and Business students at New Mexico’s public universities. Statistically, these students are most likely to start new companies and create jobs for New Mexicans.
INVEST IN NEW MEXICO
The State Investment Council (SIC), guided by strict guidelines, should invest in companies that are locating or growing their companies in our own backyard. The SIC can provide providing financing for facilities or invest directly in companies themselves. The SIC should also establish a proof of concept fund that would help early-stage New Mexico start-ups and entrepreneurs and also stipulate that the use of those funds would obligate the company to build their businesses in New Mexico.