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CNM leading the way in innovation and agility

The recent widespread team efforts to attract Facebook, Amazon and other high-powered international high-tech leaders to New Mexico has led many to understand that workforce preparation and expansion is far more than degree acquisition.

Today’s educational options and pathways are as much about job mobility as job creation and take the form of condensed training, “skill-up” opportunities, modular testing, online classes and much more – for students of all ages and backgrounds.

The collective response to the Amazon RFP in October was a great exercise for all of us involved in economic development. Forget the naysayers who think New Mexico’s chances are nil. I think we are a viable choice and bring quite a few assets which could be intriguing to an entrepreneurial genius like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. One of those key assets is Central New Mexico Community College.

The cities that responded by saying they could immediately deliver the required “50,000-person workforce in 10 to 15 years” misjudged the real assignment: Amazon is looking for the workforce of the future… and 15 years is an eternity when it comes to technology. CNM employs some of the best and brightest math, science, engineering, computer, cyber security, business and technical wizards in the state, and we deploy them every day for corporate and government design exercises. Amazon’s future workforce is on our campus and all around the Land of Enchantment.

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CNM earned the national Student Success Award from the American Association of Community Colleges because we are active in this arena and we GET IT. As a longtime board member of Albuquerque Economic Development and current board member of the New Mexico Partnership, I am proud to share and call on CNM’s agility, creativity and versatility because:

WE FIGURE STUFF OUT. Our ground-breaking “Connect Services” model was one of the first programs in the United States to standardize wrap-around student support services such as financial coaching, counseling and other family assistance because we realized that struggling student performance was not always a classroom situational problem. It was often a life, parenting or job interference issue that negatively affected academic achievement. We see and focus on the biggest picture.

WE IDENTIFY AND FILL NEEDS. CNM has contracted with the state to deliver a “Rapid Bilingual Workforce Development” program. Understanding that the size of the professionally prepared Spanish/English and English/Spanish speaking labor pool needed to be identified and recruited from all over the state, CNM is setting up a crucial assessment tool and modules of preparatory classes to do just that, and quickly.

WE CUSTOMIZE TRAINING. For years, CNM has created “living labs” for companies new to or growing in Albuquerque. When light aircraft manufacturer Eclipse first formed here, we set up a mock assembly line that trained aircraft mechanics how to assemble planes in our Workforce Training Center. We set up the state’s first “clean-room classroom” for then-new resident Intel, and trained semiconductor manufacturer technicians with actual Intel equipment and according to corporate specifications and culture.

WE ARE STABLE AND LEAN. CNM has had five presidents in 52 years, so our continuity of leadership has enabled the college to implement long-term goals and vision. In spite of being the largest student volume institution in New Mexico and among the top 50 in size in the United States, we have only four vice presidents, so our executive group is solid and can be agile. Our Governing Board is composed of experienced professionals who are elected by their districts of supportive voters. They spend hours working with our president and executives as a focused team.

WE DELIVER. When CNM makes a promise to the community, we fulfill it, usually in record time. We have a “no whining” culture, and despite funding or other setbacks, we find a way. From our downtown STEMulus Center to coding bootcamps to accelerated degrees or our Entrepreneurial Mindset Training to our groundbreaking 2+1+2 Pathway Program with the University of New Mexico, we work in tandem with businesses and non-profit, private and public groups to serve a plethora of populations and individual or collective situations.

Many of the exciting new, globally significant companies such as Facebook, and yes, Amazon, can take note of the enormous collaboration and innovation alive and well in New Mexico. Jeff Bezos is obviously a leader who seeks impact and wants to be a constant game changer. What better place than here?

At CNM and in New Mexico, our true and palpable legacies are diversity, collaboration and grit. We are still proudly the Wild West, but always make room to educate, enable and celebrate more cowboy companies!


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