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Editorial: Smart moves help N.M. climb the business ladder

The climate for business is brightening in New Mexico, according to a CNBC poll that ranked the state 24th this year.

That’s a big leap from last year’s ranking of 37th as the state has made significant changes in its quest to attract and retain business – and to create and keep jobs.

Among the highlights of the evaluation was New Mexico’s ranking fifth-best for infrastructure, 16th for workforce and 13th for cost of living. Those good marks, however, were offset by rankings for education (40th), business friendliness (41st), access to capital (42nd) and technology and innovation (38th). All are important areas for improvement going forward.

That said, there is good news on the technology and innovation front.

Homegrown Lavu, which developed software that allows restaurants and hotels to conduct business on mobile devices, received $15 million in venture capital.

And for the second year, the University of New Mexico was recognized for leadership in innovation, economic development and marketing its research.

UNM scored 42nd among 100 universities and research organizations worldwide that received U.S. patents in 2014. Last year it ranked 56th on the list compiled by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Nationally, UNM placed 31st in number of patents received in 2014 compared to other U.S. universities. It was 40th nationally in 2013.

Meanwhile, Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela told lawmakers he’s got two out-of-state companies on the hook – at least for visits to the state. They have the potential for bringing hundreds of jobs.

He credits a new tax-incentive package recently signed by the governor and more money for economic growth activities – including incentives for headquarters companies and $50 million for a state closing fund in the new budget year, more than triple the $15 million appropriated for this year. The fund is designed to make doing business in New Mexico more attractive by deferring some costs of relocation and expansion.

This follows on significant earlier changes on extending the film tax incentives and finally shedding the single sales factor tax system that punished New Mexico companies for growth.

While New Mexico has a long way to go on the economic front, these signs of progress mean the state is moving in the right direction. And is making smart decisions to get there.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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