SEA: No. 1 priority is retention, expansion through community opportunities

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — It seems SEA has gone to the dogs, attendees saw Thursday morning, at the monthly NAIOP Roundtable in Rio Rancho at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center.

Sandoval Economic Alliance mascot Cash, a golden-doodle, chills on the floor at last week’s NAIOP meeting. Photo by Gary Herron

Or just one dog, actually: He’s “Cash,” a golden-doodle, Sandoval Economic Alliance’s new mascot, who, outgoing Executive Director Steve Jenkins said, actually “brought in a client.”

And clients are what SEA is always seeking, along with buildings — virtual or real — ready for occupancy, with a shortcut through red tape.

Jenkins informed attendees that no site selectors will agree locate their companies in an area where it will take more than nine months to have them up and running.

Jenkins, whose last day is March 30, gave an update on SEA’s recent rebranding, the addition of a research director and what will remain the organization’s No.1 priority: community opportunities through retention and expansion.

Jenkins noted that SEA is halfway through the economic development action strategy plan, in conjunction with the efforts of Avalanche Consulting.

It’s important for Rio Rancho not to be known, or believed, to be a bedroom community of Albuquerque, he said, paraphrasing an expert in the field who told Jenkins he’d never seen a bedroom community prosper.

In his regular remarks to the group, Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull reiterated the start of the “Ten Great Things about Rio Rancho,” which began with – in no particular order —”We’re the bright spot,” “Most bang for your buck” and “Rest easy in Rio Rancho.”

“There’s always work to be done,” Hull added, agreeing to someone’s comment that the city needs support from within, and folks should “stop bagging, start bragging” about the City of Vision.

Laura Burton, the program manager for the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center-Rio Rancho, told how expanding enrollment has recently resulted in “more students than we have seats,” and the campus is strategizing to increase enrollment.

Students can obtain a medical assistant’s certification in just three semesters, “a stepping stone” to other careers in the field, Burton said. A new collaborative health careers program with Rio Rancho Public Schools will allow for “real engagement and enrichment,” with the high school students also getting CPR-certified.

“We’re continuing our commitment to the community,” Burton said. “There are so many careers in the health field.”

Speaking of RRPS, Beth Pendergrass, the district’s chief communications, strategy and engagement officer, told the group three Rio Rancho High School DECA members are seeking sponsorships, to the tune of $1,500 each, to attend the DECA nationals this spring in Florida.

And in another “good news” announcement, it was learned from Pendergrass that Joe Harris Elementary will have its groundbreaking at 3:30 p.m. April 1.

It was also mentioned that the Los Diamantes subdivision, being built in Unit 10 not far from Joe Harris Elementary, will also soon break ground. Developer Pierre Amestoy plans to eventually build 450 homes in that neighborhood, west of Unser Boulevard and adjacent to Westside Boulevard.

The next Rio Rancho NAIOP Roundtable, set for 7:30 a.m. on April 4, will feature a legislative update.