Working 4 the Future: Keeping talent in New Mexico | KOB 4

Working 4 the Future: Keeping talent in New Mexico

Chris Ramirez
Updated: December 13, 2020 10:24 PM
Created: December 13, 2020 08:36 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —In many ways, the COVID-19 crisis has leveled the playing field, economically-speaking, for New Mexico. With depressed economies across the country, many native New Mexicans are returning home for a variety of reasons. The question is—how do we keep our homegrown in our state, even once the pandemic ends?

Ty Molo, an Albuquerque native and Sandia High School and New Mexico State University graduate is a great example of what happens all too often in our state. After graduating with a degree in marketing from NMSU, Ty moved to the Phoenix area.  We call that "brain drain"—when New Mexico students leave the state for career opportunities elsewhere.

“I thought—Phoenix is a much bigger city. It's comprised of a lot of huge markets that surround it,” Ty told KOB 4.  “Shortly after graduating, I essentially just took the first job that I could get ahold of.”

Through the years, Ty moved into an important role in the Hyatt company recruiting businesses to hold conferences on Hyatt properties.  In early 2020, Hyatt moved him to Miami.  Ty said, moving back to his hometown was never really in the cards; Albuquerque felt like more of a representation of his past, rather than his future.  But when the COVID-19 crisis shut down travel and large in-person gatherings, Hyatt laid Ty off.  Without the ability to hold conferences and meetings, Ty’s position was no longer needed, so he returned home.

“I packed up everything and put it in storage just in case there was a callback situation, Ty said. “I got to Albuquerque and quarantined with my sister and her boyfriend for two weeks and then moved into my parent’s spare bedroom.”

Soon after, Ty found a job in the solar industry. He’s doing what he never thought he would—living and working in his hometown.

There are many others like Ty Molo, people who left our state, but have returned for a COVID-19 related reason. They are smart, educated New Mexicans and keeping them in our workforce once the pandemic ends puts New Mexico in a better economic position.

“New Mexico is very well positioned to come out of this pandemic and the economic harshness in a very productive way,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.  “And we are positioned to not only recruit back our Boomerang New Mexicans, but to also keep our incredibly talented young people right here. I'm really optimistic about the future.”

For New Mexico to thrive economically post-pandemic, the responsibility is on Gov. Lujan Grisham and the legislature to improve the economic environment.

“More people are moving into New Mexico than moving out. That's a good brand new statistic that we ought to all be proud of. I certainly am,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.  

The governor believes New Mexico has already laid the groundwork for high paying jobs in a variety of fields and she expects those industries to do well on the other side of COVID.

“We got a billion dollar second investment from Netflix, we're one of six states that could be the location of the Space Command, Virgin Galactic is making good. I'm still really optimistic about cannabis, which is [expected to bring in] 12,000 jobs by the fifth year in operation.  The projections show we would make $600 million a year; it is a large economic boost,’ Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

The governor suggests boosting STEM education at all levels to create a workforce for careers in an industry she believes is emerging- aerospace.

“We need a clear pipeline for our young people to get into Spaceport America and aeronautics. That is a place where we can really grow in this state.  We need to make sure that our students are getting the support that they need to get right in," she said.

But the state can’t go at it alone.  The federal government has a responsibility to boost states’ economic successes as well.

“We need to make sure that the engineers who are graduating from New Mexico universities are able to find opportunities in New Mexico, including with our national labs,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, (D- NM CD3). “We need to not only help the small businesses we have, but attract some new ones.”

Ty seems to enjoy his unexpected career in solar energy, an industry that wasn’t on his radar before home. If Ty and all the others who returned home stay in New Mexico when the country’s economy fully re-opens, it’s to our benefit.

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