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Guest Column: County partners its confidence in SEA

Dora Dominguez

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The strength of our state’s economy is measured by the success of our small-business owners.

If Sandoval County can come out of this pandemic stronger with a more diverse economy and brighter future, it will take the strength of all of us and the ability to truly come together.

As local governments foresee lower gross-receipt and property tax revenues, our Sandoval County Commission has no choice but to cut services. For Commission Chairman David Heil, the pressing reminder has been consistently to stress the need to broaden the tax base.

Now more than ever, we must retain jobs and attract new jobs. The choice no one wants to make is to cut services or increase taxes.

Tools that help a community in consideration as a new company location include an available workforce, available sites, tax incentives and a business-friendly environment. The professionals who work to ensure communities tell their “site-ready” story are economic development organizations.

EDOs collect and analyze information about the region with other competitive markets. Selling what’s ready for development or soon to be ready is equally important.

The core function of any EDO is the ability to sell all its community attributes. Proactively marketing a community will require a regional approach.

We must leverage every relationship and demand a seat at every trade show. Use of digital marketing expertise to promote every attribute will be key.

EDOs work to build company trust and adhere to company confidentiality. The importance of which applies locally, as much as with nationally recruited prospects.

Even small local businesses may not want to have government aware of expansion plans. Financial vetting, site identification and existing building challenges are examples of details that, once made public, can impact a project.

Sandoval Economic Alliance is a three-partner organization: the city, county and private sector supporting job creation across the county. SEA is aligned and committed to supporting existing business growth and the recruitment of new jobs.

The model works because our residential neighborhoods and employer-based zones are interrelated, regardless of which city, town or village in which they are located. Every dollar invested by partners, both public and private, is stretched and leveraged.

Chairman Heil shared with SEA and the commission that, as a result of COVID-19, New Mexico is seeing a trend of inquires at the state and local level of companies looking for less dense areas to relocate.

“It’s important to remember we are not the only ones who fit this definition,” he said.

Finally, Chairman Heil and I agree that “if one major player opts out as a partner in what will require a regional effort, prospects and the local business community will question our cohesiveness and look to grow elsewhere.”

Without the three partners, the partnership forged six years ago will change to the detriment of our communities. Now is not the time to cut the sales team and shutter our community’s marketing department.

Now is time for EDOs, including SEA, to remain on task.

(Dora Dominguez is the Sandoval County director of economic and business development.)

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