It may not pop up on your calendar, but May 8-12 is Economic Development Week.
Created in 2016 by the International Economic Development Council, the week highlights state and local efforts to create jobs and improve economic well-being. Unlike market-driven growth, economic development is a deliberate policy initiative to improve economic security for families.
In New Mexico, this is particularly relevant as the state Economic Development Department (EDD) and our local partner organizations join forces to diversify the economy and attract higher-paying jobs. While the free market has brought us steady growth from many economic sectors, our initiatives target avenues to future-proof New Mexico with innovative, high-paying jobs for New Mexico graduates.
The core of this effort supports economic-base industry sectors – those that export goods and services and bring wealth into New Mexico from outside our borders.
Just as out-of-state visitors bring and spend new money in New Mexico, so do new and growing economic-base companies. Every community will better thrive because these businesses create jobs and wealth; the long-term benefits far exceed the initial cost of any incentives.
When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took office, she prioritized nine industries: aerospace, biosciences, cybersecurity, film and television, global trade, intelligent manufacturing, outdoor recreation, sustainable energy and value-added agriculture.
These industries support 21st-century jobs and sustainable economic growth without exporting our culture or history.
This strategy is working. Film workers are moving back to New Mexico from California and Georgia, and the state has seen over $1.5 billion in production spending over the past two years alone, which is attracting other private-sector support businesses.
In the areas of sustainable energy, biosciences and aerospace we are seeing more jobs and skilled workers choosing New Mexico instead of Colorado, Texas, California or Utah.
When the state invests in infrastructure and workforce development for growing economic-base businesses, the community benefits. New jobs and new spending mean additional taxes for police, fire, schools, community development, museums and more.
In New Mexico, our two most successful incentives are the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) and the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP). LEDA provides an investment in infrastructure, necessary for an economic development project to succeed. The infrastructure is permanent – especially important in rural communities.
JTIP invests in New Mexico workers, which also benefits the growing company. The employee receives a new job and new skills and the business benefits both by partial reimbursement of the employee’s wages during training and a more skilled workforce.
A recent newspaper article on the success of the JTIP program focused on three new JTIP hires at Pajarito Powder – a chemical engineering doctorate who returned to Albuquerque for the position and two recent University of New Mexico graduates who were able to stay in their home state and start their careers.
JTIP incentivized the hirings and helped a smaller company pay competitive salaries to provide hands-on training.
This progress doesn’t come overnight. It requires bipartisan support for economic development investments. This week we reach out to all New Mexicans to highlight these successes and thank all of those who have supported them.
Happy Economic Development Week to all!