Pushing Silicon Subsidies in Santa Fe

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you’re wondering why New Mexico’s economy is stuck in neutral, last night’s “High Tech Roundtable,” held at the Violet Crown Cinema in Santa Fe, offered one explanation.

On hand were economic-development bureaucrats Julia Wise (salary: $56,160), Peter Mitchell ($57,200), Patrick Gannon ($44,197.71), and Johanna Nelson ($59,785.44). Each offered glowing descriptions of the state’s corporate-welfare programs.

Wise has a Ph.D. in geology and “serves on the task force for the Pentland Centre for Sustainability‘s initiative on global risk assessment,” but for some unfathomable reason, heads up the Office of Science and Technology at the Economic Development Department (EDD). She outlined the goodies available from the New Mexico Innovation Voucher Program, New Mexico Small Business Innovation Research Award Match Program, and New Mexico Catalyst Fund.

Gannon offered an overview of the Job Training Incentive Program, a giveaway that has been on the books since 1972. He’s pleased that lawmakers have been “quite generous” with JTIP funding in recent years.

Next up was Peter Mitchell, who admitted — publicly — that he “ran the spaceport” for ex-Governor Bill Richardson. Still in “economic development,” of course, Mitchell’s currently assigned to the EDD’s “Community, Business & Rural Development Team.”

Nelson finished the discussion, offering her division‘s services to firms looking for a “second pair of eyes” to scrutinize their financials. She had an exclusive — it hasn’t been announced yet, but the EDD will soon be offering a “credit-enhancement program” to purchase CDs for entrepreneurs who have inadequate collateral!

Not surprisingly, the event’s Chardonnay-sipping audience exhibited no skepticism about the corporatcrats’ pitches, so Errors of Enchantment couldn’t resist asking an inconvenient question: Aren’t the programs and incentives described not working very well, given that the state has fewer people employed today than it did a decade ago?

The query wasn’t received well. Wise replied that jobs would be ever scarcer, if not for the EDD’s efforts — and when pressed for evidence of her claim, admitted that she had none. Gannon cited the Great Recession (which ended almost nine years ago) as an excuse, and tangented off into a description of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. He then claimed that the state was in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters, and had to be told be the crowd that the “HQ2” ship sailed over a month ago. Mitchell remarked that he and his cronies get Errors of Enchantment’s question “a lot.” (Hmm. Maybe there’s a reason for that….)

So in the end, last night’s roundtable was just another self-congratulatory exercise in avoiding the real issues behind New Mexico’s dearth of job- and wealth-creation. There was no discussion of school choice, a right-to-work law, innovative crimefighting, deregulation, tax cuts, or any of the other reforms that promise to boost high-tech employment in the Land of Enchantment. But no worries. Everyone — well, all but one attendee — left the event feeling that great things are just around the corner. After all, economic-development bureaucrats know what they’re doing. Right?

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2 Replies to “Pushing Silicon Subsidies in Santa Fe”

  1. I typed Peter Mitchell’s name into the State of NM employee database but his name did not come up. Is his salary secret for “competitive” reasons?

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