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Governor highlights ‘STEM boomerang’ program

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham testified before a congressional subcommittee last week about oil and gas leases near Chaco Culture National Historic Park. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham testified before a congressional subcommittee last week about oil and gas leases near Chaco Culture National Historic Park. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday that her administration will try to persuade young people to stay in New Mexico – or come back, if they’ve left – as part of the state’s economic development efforts.

She highlighted that idea and others Monday during a speech to hundreds of business leaders, parents and students at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

A spending bill approved by lawmakers this year includes about $25,000 to fund the “STEM boomerang program” – an annual high-tech job fair at the University of New Mexico, where supporters try to connect graduates with jobs, especially in science, technology, engineering and math.

“There is so much work and hope right here in this incredible state,” Lujan Grisham said Monday.

New Mexico has struggled for years with population growth that’s lagged behind other western states. More people moved out of the state than moved in, according to census data released last year.

Lujan Grisham said Monday that the state’s expanded film incentive program, along with increased spending on public schools, roads and other basics, is positioning New Mexico well for the future.

She spoke to an audience of about 425 people gathered for a luncheon sponsored by NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association. The audience included business and community leaders, along with students participating in a science fair.

NAIOP is a major donor to the science fair.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who took office Jan. 1, joked that she was ready to hire at least one science fair winner into the State Engineer’s Office right away. But more broadly, she said the state’s economic development strategy will include recruiting young professionals who have left the state and persuading others to stay.

New Mexico, she said, has a tradition of luring people back.

“There is something about this state, even on its worst day – I’m excited and enthusiastic about every single possibility,” she said.

Lujan Grisham was about 30 minutes late to the luncheon, arriving a little before 1 p.m., but she apologized and thanked audience members for their patience.

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