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Guest Column: Gardening Unser Gateway and economic development

Dave Heil

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The new year for contracted work between Sandoval County and the Sandoval Economic Alliance begins in July.

Already, the plan under a new SEA contract year includes a new twist on an old economic-development idea and refocusing its force behind some of the best economic-development practices. This plan is especially critical as we re-emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown.

The announcement of 100 new jobs to Rio Rancho by ClearSky Health and the company’s appreciation to SEA for all its work to ensure the company found the best fit for a new facility is welcomed news. The announcement not only means new jobs, but it also supports a city and county shared goal to create a bio-med industry cluster for the entire Unser Gateway area.

SEA is implementing a new twist on “economic gardening,” a concept that seeks to grow the local economy from within the existing business base. SEA is inviting local businesses to apply to participate in direct-service delivery of business mentoring and marketing designed to help that business grow.

The idea of economic gardening is an effort Fred Shepard, SEA’s new president, has utilized with success in the City of Las Cruces Economic Development Office, which is easily measurable.

Business site selectors, developers and companies looking to expand or relocate operate more and more on shortened time frames, and rely on predictable processes. For these reasons, it remains critical that SEA continues to work with developers to ensure that our land parcels ready to attract business growth are promoted.

SEA will also continue to review all incentive applications received by the county.

The Avalanche Action Strategy created last year provides a road map for identifying ideal sites for future development; it includes the plan for identifying sites ready now and sites defined as future opportunities.

The VeriReady program ensures properties are positioned as an attractive investment by providing a virtual image of a build-to-suit facility. All of these steps have been provided to help companies break ground faster.

Today, the VeriReady website most prominently includes Rio Rancho’s City Center and the Broadmoor Business Park. Other sites being studied will soon be included.

SEA continues to receive an enthusiastic response for virtual site promotion and emphasizes these properties in its recruitment and retention efforts for economic-base businesses

The action strategy, a comprehensive economic-development plan, also fulfilled the City of Rio Rancho and Sandoval County’s need for an updated labor-shed study and identified target industries that include Life Sciences, Professional Services, Support and Advanced Technology and Manufacturing.

SEA’s new leader holds an extensive economic development background and a comprehensive knowledge of Sandoval County. His plans include implementing best practices available to maximize every opportunity to best serve the community we love.

SEA, as the lead on the execution and implementation of the action strategy, will ensure both our community’s return on investment and also support their recruitment of quality job creation.

(Dave Heil represents District 4 and serves as chairman on the Sandoval County Commission.)



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