SF should refocus area's development effort on tech - Albuquerque Journal

SF should refocus area’s development effort on tech

By Dave Dannenberg

Bringing in technology companies – particularly software, bio tech, renewable energy and clean manufacturing – is important to the economic growth of northern New Mexico. Now, regional government is doing too little to promote this direction, with current activity and investment centered almost exclusively on growing tourism.

I’ve worked in tech for over 35 years, the first 20 of those for big companies in Phoenix and the more recent 18 years in a variety of ventures while living here in Santa Fe. I can say with certainty that it is possible to run a tech company here, but it’s not an easy or obvious place to do so.

Also, for me, doing tech in New Mexico has meant hiring remote, out-of-state employees, working long distance with investors and partners and typically billing out-of-state clients. Very little of my business has contributed directly back to the northern New Mexico economy in creating new jobs. This can change if local government and the handful of tech companies currently here work together to make it happen.

What is the motivation to shift local government away from a near-singular focus on tourism and onto growing tech? Foremost, tech companies pay high salaries and their demands on local resources and infrastructure are relatively low, particularly in comparison to tourism.

According to glassdoor.com, which surveys salaries nationwide, software engineers earn on average 103K per year. Adding tech companies and their high-paying jobs to the economic mix of the region means that more cash flows into the community, which means more tax revenues, and more business for the established construction, service and retail industries.

High-paying companies provide opportunities for salary growth in the community as local workers develop needed skills through workforce training or pursuing advanced degrees. As for infrastructure, a software company needs employees, an accessible office space, high-speed internet and not much else to produce a valuable product.

The region cannot sustain continued growth of tourism, which in contrast is a strain on resources. It requires steady investment in infrastructure, such as utilities, roads, policing and emergency services, to support growing peak tourist numbers. It does little to improve residents’ quality of life, bringing more crowds and higher prices. With low salaries in hospitality – 43K per year average, according to Glassdoor.com – there is little salary growth opportunity for those working in the industry.

What is the equation for bringing in tech? Northern New Mexico already has many of the pieces in place to attract tech. It is a great place to live. It has a beautiful and rich cultural heritage, and a great mix of city life and the outdoors. Its people value diversity and sustainability, which is in line with the belief systems of tech. LANL is already contributing by providing some technology spin outs and has the intellectual capacity to fuel more local innovation if other pieces are in place.

Tech companies thrive in a place that has other tech companies, universities and investors that create an innovation ecosystem. Although typically a research university is central to the ecosystem, Santa Fe Community College has shown that it can meet the challenge. It has already deployed complex initiatives in areas such as biofuels production, micro grids, solar energy and greenhouse operations, plus their partnerships with UNM and other research universities. I think that SFCC can be a cornerstone for developing a tech ecosystem here.

To make this happen, local tech, SFCC and UNM, with the solid support of government, need to come together and recognize the tasks needed to begin to grow an innovation ecosystem. Next, local government needs to provide real spending and resources in support of the initiatives developed. Finally, government should be ready to close deals using tools that are available, such as Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) grants, revenue bonds and tax breaks.

This is a long road that requires focus and intent to succeed. But I believe it promises a much better economic future for northern New Mexico than our current path.

Dave Dannenberg is founder of XFormGov (www.xformgov.org), a software company based in Santa Fe, and was previously a technology executive at Intel Corp. He is a candidate for SFCC Governing Board in the November election.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » SF should refocus area’s development effort on tech

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Hamill: Tax administration is not the right venue for ...
ABQnews Seeker
COLUMN: We should expect that AI ... COLUMN: We should expect that AI tools have significant deficiencies in administering tax laws if their decisions are not human-reviewed.
FBI raid nets fentanyl, meth, guns and cash
ABQnews Seeker
An FBI raid of two Albuquerque ... An FBI raid of two Albuquerque area homes on Thursday led to the discovery of around 1 ...
APD reviewed every 2022 police shooting. Here are the ...
ABQnews Seeker
New equipment and training are among ... New equipment and training are among the actions proposed by the Albuquerque Police leadership group.
FBI raid nets 100,000 fentanyl pills, 16 pounds of ...
ABQnews Seeker
One of the men arrested "was ... One of the men arrested "was found to be in possession of an incredible amount of drugs," a motion reads.
Police: Albuquerque movie theater staff wrestled loaded assault rifle ...
ABQnews Seeker
An Albuquerque man was charged with ... An Albuquerque man was charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm into a licensed liquor establishment and negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection ...
U.S.-Mexico's strained relationship in need of a reset
ABQnews Seeker
The U.S.-Mexico relationship needs a reset. ... The U.S.-Mexico relationship needs a reset. Relations were already strained when then-presidential c ...
Pet care: A rude awakening to canine behavior
ABQnews Seeker
Buster's bite proves a pivotal moment ... Buster's bite proves a pivotal moment in child-dog relationship
Tips to do spring cleaning right, inside and out
OPINION: It's that time of year ... OPINION: It's that time of year for spring cleaning.
Talk of the Town: How the Legislature did
From the newspaper
OPINION: But mainly the reason I'm ... OPINION: But mainly the reason I'm behind this tax is that many sales would go down due to the fact many people will not ...