Working 4 the Future: Diversifying New Mexico’s Economy | KOB 4

Working 4 the Future: Diversifying New Mexico’s Economy

Nathan O'Neal
Updated: December 20, 2020 10:36 PM
Created: December 20, 2020 09:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico gets nearly 40 percent of its revenue from the oil and gas industry. However, when the pandemic first hit, oil prices tanked and it put New Mexico in a very tough position. State economic leaders are now working on developing a path forward to recovery with a renewed focus on diversifying the landscape of New Mexico’s economy.

“Let’s double down on economic development. Now is the time for New Mexico to focus on how we grow the economy,” said Alicia Keyes, who is the cabinet secretary for New Mexico’s Economic Development Department.

“The sectors you see us incentivizing are the sectors that we feel like have growth potential – that we have the academic institutions here, that we have the workforce to succeed,” said Keyes.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says even as the state faces the economic uncertainty of today, her administration is working for the future to invest millions of state dollars in several key industries.

“New Mexico is very well positioned to come out of this pandemic, and the economic harshness of this pandemic in a very productive way,” said Lujan Grisham.

At the Roundhouse, lawmakers like Speaker Brian Egolf are facing the budgetary struggles brought by the pandemic.

“We have got to diversify our economy and that's done by one nurturing and helping to grow the home grown businesses and bring companies in from out of state to create good jobs,” said Egolf, adding later:  “We don't want to take one industry like oil and gas that accounts for 40% of our state revenue, and then replace it with something else that's 40%."

Gov. Lujan Grisham has identified nine sectors for the state to invest in:

  • Aerospace
  • Film & Television
  • Intelligent Manufacturing
  • Global Trade
  • Value Added Agriculture
  • Cyber-Security
  • Bio-Sciences
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Outdoor Recreation 

“These are sectors that New Mexico is primed to succeed in, so we are really trying to focus a lot of our attention on those sectors and also a lot of our incentive money,” said Secretary Keyes.

Netflix is one prime example. The state recently announced the streaming giant is expanding its operations in Albuquerque with the help of millions of economic development dollars from the state.

Aerospace is another field the state is hoping will take off, between the Spaceport and companies like Virgin Galactic moving forward with test flights. State officials say there’s even more companies on the way.

“We typically work with companies for about a year, year and a half, before they actually land here. So we’re already working with some potentially very interesting clients who are looking at New Mexico, at the Spaceport … at the surrounding facilities,” said Keyes.

There’s also a major effort to bring high paying technology-based jobs to communities  all across our state. And the good news is New Mexico is making some real progress to support that.

In fact, a recent analysis by the Milken Institute found New Mexico alongside New Jersey saw the largest gains in science and technology workforce over the past two years.

In the biosciences sector, more than a hundred new high-paying jobs are expected in Rio Rancho. The company Nature’s Toolbox specializes in bio-manufacturing to speed up the development of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. The average salary: $74,000.

State officials are also tapping into the international border with Mexico as a major economic opportunity.

“There are many companies in Asia who want to re-shore or onshore into the United States,” said Keyes.

In recent months, the state announced major partnerships with at least three Taiwanese companies to set up shop in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. That includes Xxentria – which is a leading manufacturer of metal composites.

“A lot of their heavy industry and manufacturing is going to be in Chihuahua and then we do the assembly in New Mexico, and also the headquarters,” Keyes said. “And we've just hired a consultant for New Mexico that will be based in Taipei to help us with courting those Taiwanese companies and those Asian companies that potentially want to be on the border here.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also hoping to sow seeds for a brand new industry—recreational marijuana, which stalled in the Roundhouse last year.

“I’m still really optimistic about cannabis, which is 12,000 jobs… and you know by the fifth year in operation, the projections are we would make $600 million a year. It is a large economic boost,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

It’s unclear how long it might take to truly transform the landscape of New Mexico’s economy. However, the state recently got $1.5 million in federal funds to put together a 20-year strategy for the state of New Mexico.


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