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Raising the bar for New Mexico’s economy

Matt Geisel

SANTA FE, N.M. — In New Mexico, we have set our economic development goals high. In recent years, we’ve been able to not only compare ourselves with heavyweight states, but we’ve started competing with them.

That’s because, under the leadership of Gov. Susana Martinez, we’ve made huge strides in creating a healthier economy and a robust business climate, which have allowed us to compete at a higher level.

The governor has cut taxes 57 times, removed burdensome regulations that were in the way of job creation, and created new tools that propel New Mexico’s innovation ecosystem – like the Catalyst Fund and Innovation Vouchers.

In the last seven years, the governor has also prioritized and strengthened JTIP and LEDA – two crucial economic development tools. These tools strengthen our workforce and build the business infrastructure. They expand New Mexico’s competitiveness to recruit job creators to the state. They support the job-creating expansions of existing New Mexican companies.

There are dozens of New Mexico companies that have taken advantage of these powerful programs. For example:

• Wholesome Valley Foods – with the aid of LEDA funding – is leading the way in advanced farming techniques, creating dozens of jobs in the impoverished community of Berino.

• Descartes Labs, a startup based on technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratories, is changing world markets utilizing LEDA and JTIP with its artificial intelligence technology and creating dozens of high-tech jobs in Santa Fe.

• Compass Components in Deming leveraged JTIP to re-train its manufacturing workforce as it re-tooled for competitiveness against foreign competition, in a county that typically experiences among the highest unemployment in the state.

These tools have also been critical to bringing companies to New Mexico. For example:

• Facebook is investing over $1 billion in New Mexico, creating hundreds of permanent jobs, and supporting over 1,000 construction jobs in Valencia County until 2023.

• Safelite is creating nearly 1,000 jobs in Rio Rancho.

• Keter Plastic has located its West Coast Manufacturing Operations to Belen and is creating hundreds of manufacturing jobs.

Facebook, Safelite, Keter and many others have been attracted to our state by our improved business climate, lower taxes and our robust economic development tools. These are just a small sampling of the high-quality job creation and investment taking hold across the state.

These facts make it crystal clear why Gov. Martinez proposes putting $12 million toward JTIP in fiscal ’19 to hire and train even more New Mexicans. And $10 million toward LEDA to recruit even more new companies and help our homegrown businesses thrive.

Without reliable and consistent funding of our JTIP and LEDA programs, New Mexico would be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting new businesses and helping our homegrown companies expand. If we want to continue to be a national leader, we must support our most important economic development tools and protect the reforms that have been crucial to our recent success.

When we create jobs and grow our economy, we create the foundation for success.