Editor’s Note: Throughout 2022, New Mexico Angels’ members, investors and start-up owners will be writing columns on economic development and start-up opportunities in the state. The Angels unite individual investors to pool their resources, providing seed and early-stage capital to startup companies.
For years, New Mexico has been talking about trying to make our state’s economy less dependent on the oil and gas industry.
While there has been some progress, not much with real impact has materialized yet. Likely that’s because it’s not easy to do and, in fact, it’s not even clear what to do.
We’ve heard lots of talk from government officials about where we should focus — the biosciences, aerospace, film and TV, intelligent manufacturing, outdoor recreation, sustainable and green energy, sustainable and value-added agriculture, cybersecurity and global trade.
These are all worthwhile, and in my view, appropriate industries to target. They will create the bulk of the jobs and create the most wealth in the economic future of the world.
It is terrific that our state government has put in place a variety of incentives to reach companies in these key economic areas. But it won’t be enough. The reason is we don’t have an appropriate infrastructure that would allow these companies to develop and grow in New Mexico. We are missing critical pieces including:
— Incentives to developers to build spec buildings so that companies started or grown here or attracted to New Mexico have a place to move into without having a lengthy wait.
Understandably our incentives to date have focused on job creation. But now we’re at a stage where we need to go to the next step, specifically:
— Programs that would provide support to vendors that supply the target industries so that it’s easier for the companies to get what they need.
— Initiatives that would make it easier for companies to attract talent to our state. We know how great it is to live and work in New Mexico, but outsiders see it differently. One example might be an initiative that would help find jobs for trailing spouses, with another being to focus on creating clusters of companies in the same industry so that if someone loses their job in one company, there is another they can move to without having to relocate out of NM.
— Efforts to train younger workers and retrain older workers to be able to work in the targeted industries, and especially apprenticeship programs like those that have been very successful in Germany.
I applaud everyone’s actions and the trajectory New Mexico is taking. But it’s time for elected officials, the angels’ community, business leaders and economic developers to look at the entire picture as we plan New Mexico’s future for not only today but for future generations.
Stuart Rose is a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of The BioScience Center, Fat Pipe New Mexico and Go-Station, Inc., a member of New Mexico Angels, and is an investor in multiple local startups including NTx Bio, Electric Playhouse, Wildlife Protection Management, Allerpops and mPowerTechnology and serves as a Board Member of New Mexico Community Capital and a Venture Partner of Tramway Ventures.