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Thinking big will help state’s economic recovery

I grew up in Grants during a challenging time following the closing of the mines when families had to deal with the economic fallout in a small town. With limited resources, the notion of prosperity during that time was like changing the stars. These challenges provide a unique perspective to what hard work and dedication can accomplish. It isn’t by any means an exclusive perspective. My ethos and work ethic are shaped by the guiding lights in my life, which include my family, friends, business associates and different parts of this community.

The recession’s lingering effect will wear down your soul if you let it. It is easy to be negative. It is a lot more productive to be part of the solution. I choose the later. One thing is clear. In order to succeed, the private sector needs to think outside of the box. Big dreams and big investments, coupled with a commitment to excellence and a never-quit mentality.

The companies I lead include SC3 International, Integrated Control Systems, Mechanical Control Solutions, Mobile Pathways, eKore and others. Chances are, you have not heard of those businesses. But my ownership in another company is quite notable.

When I was first brought on as a partner of WisePies Pizza & Salad, I owned a small 25 percent of the company. To borrow an old adage, I could ring the bell but could not steer the ship. Eventually, and quickly, my ownership grew.

When WisePies decided to become a sponsor of the iconic University Arena, “The Pit,” we did so to support one of our state’s great sports programs as well as to help our small Albuquerque-based business grow to have a national, even international, presence. As a lifelong fan, I recognized the significance of attaching our name to such a historic institution. Perhaps propelled by hubris, we were determined to think big.

Today, I am pleased to say WisePies has grown to include nine New Mexico and one Arizona location. In October, I became the sole owner of WisePies. I’ve recently made changes to the way we do business and began looking for opportunities to take our company outside the region and even outside the United States. Today we are on the cusp of landing major deals with national retailers that would make our product available to customers across the country, all the while bringing money back to New Mexico…. I cannot thank New Mexico enough for making it happen.

And yes, in the midst of rebuilding, I’ve contributed my own financial resources to ensure WisePies financial commitments were made to the University of New Mexico. While I am under no obligation to open our books, I did share a letter from my financial institution verifying payment with the editors of the Albuquerque Journal.

Despite our momentum, as an entrepreneur who grew up in New Mexico and has worked here my entire life, I am increasingly concerned about the future of our economy. I know many of you feel the same way. At a state level, we are facing the highest unemployment rate in the country, with a budget situation so dire it is causing significant gridlock in our Legislature. The truth is we can’t sit around, waiting for the economy to fix itself. I have offices in major metropolitan cities like Denver and Phoenix, and over the past 20 years I’ve witnessed the growth that is possible. Change starts with us – ordinary residents like you and me who have original ideas and can create jobs by developing those ideas.

My goal here isn’t to suggest entrepreneurs are the panacea to our state’s complex issues. Rather, by nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit that I know many of my fellow New Mexicans possess, we can help build momentum for a brighter future for our state that isn’t dependent on one industry, private or public.

My hope is to spread the message new ideas are always in demand and one person’s hubris can often afford them the confidence to take a risk and create something of value for an entire community.

So with that, I ask you to think big, New Mexico. Think big.

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