Economic Development: New Mexico Still Doesn’t Get It

Earlier today, Albuquerque Economic Development held “Connect to Success,” a workshop to educate attendees about “available business resources.”


AED, “a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to recruit business and industry, help local companies grow and generate quality job opportunities,” should be commended for its desire to improve the region’s economy. Unfortunately, if its roster of speakers is any indication, the organization isn’t aware of the most effective tools to boost entrepreneurship and create jobs.

Nearly the entire seminar was devoted to programs and tax credits offered by taxpayer-funded bureaucracies. AED officials Bob Walton and Dennis Houston raved about the state’s Job Training Incentive Program. Ronald Burke, of the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, touted his group’s “strategic partnerships,” and detailed all the ways factories could obtain subsidized help. Genaro Montoya of Sandia National Laboratories described the way his employer and Los Alamos National Laboratory, via a state program, offer services to small employers. (He assured the audience that the initiative “is not in business to compete with the private sector.”) The Workforce Connection of Central New Mexico‘s Jerilynn Sans described her agency’s subsidies for worker training. John Brooks, of the New Mexico Finance Authority, instructed attendees to tell the state’s congressional delegation that NMFA needs “more money.” And Lenny Bean, of the Procurement Technical Assistance Program, whined that sequestration was “a virus” that had spread from D.C. to the Roundhouse, in the form of a failed capital-outlay bill.

Deregulation? Broad, deep tax reform/relief? Right to work? A repeal of the state’s “renewable portfolio standard? School choice? None were mentioned during the workshop.

New Mexico’s economic-development strategy isn’t working. Labor participation is low, job growth is weak, and the population is falling.

It’s time for something different.