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NM’s real opportunity is small business

I’m somewhat shocked by what I’ve been reading lately regarding Amazon’s decision to pull out of New York City. It’s hard for me to understand how this is a long-term win for that community. The online giant promises to bring 25,000 new jobs with the average salary north of $100,000 a year. That’s $2.5 billion in payroll alone, annually! I think it’s fair to say that, given the opportunity, New Mexico would roll out the red carpet and welcome Amazon with open arms. I know I would.

While the Amazon deal is an incredible game changer, there is an alternative opportunity facing our state that has the potential to create explosive growth in our economy.

That opportunity is small business.

New Mexico is largely a small-business state. There are over 150,000 businesses, and 99 percent of them are small businesses that employ 54 percent of all New Mexicans. The local entrepreneurs that run these companies are the brave souls that ultimately drive this economy. These individuals create the companies that bring new wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues and a thriving business sector. I think it is fair to say that small business is the heartbeat of our economy and certainly the backbone. Since that is the case, we must do everything we can to support our businesses and ensure their success and growth.

Recently, I’ve heard individuals set a vision for New Mexico to become the most business-friendly state in the nation. While that sounds great, truthfully, I think it’s completely unrealistic. We are competing with Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Utah, etc., that all have booming economies, incredibly business-friendly climates, and proven track records. Why would we try to compete with these states at their level? Our strategy for economic growth must be different. Michael Porter, a professor at the Harvard School of Business, wrote, “Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.” New Mexico must choose to be different when it comes to our strategy for economic growth. While everyone else is trying to woo the proverbial Amazon, we must choose to invest in our own.

In doing so, New Mexico could become the most small-business-friendly state in the nation. That is a vision that is attainable, sustainable and incredibly beneficial to our communities.

In order to realize this vision, we must become jealous for our local companies and prop up our home-grown firms. We must realize that doing business with them is in the community’s best interest, and that our tax dollars are best spent on local, New Mexico companies that employ the best and the brightest. We must support our local entrepreneurs by connecting them to resources, encouraging the development of essential infrastructure and creating incentives designed to support their growth. If we are able to do this, New Mexico’s economy will dramatically grow from within.

And if we can sustainably grow from within, then perhaps our children can lure the Amazons of their generation to our incredible state. Or better yet, foster the growth of a New Mexico company to become the next global corporate giant right here in the Land of Enchantment.

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