NMRA urges state lawmakers to rebuild workforce, boost tourism

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SANTA FE, N.M. – At the Roundhouse, state lawmakers are looking ahead to week two of the legislative session, and restaurant owners are urging them to send help – as they continue to face staffing and supply chain challenges.

"We need to invest in marketing and rebuilding our workforce to help restore tourism,” said Carol Wight, CEO of New Mexico Restaurant Association.

The New Mexico Restaurant Association wants state lawmakers to watch a video it posted on YouTube – about what legislation it’s supporting this legislative session.

Wight said New Mexico’s restaurants are still struggling.

"Things are still pretty bad out there. Restaurants can’t get employees. We’ve been talking about that for a while and even food products are difficult to get. Supply chains are disrupted in a myriad of different ways, and so that’s made it really difficult for restaurants.”

The Restaurant Association is supporting $54 million to boost tourism and $25 million for community events, meetings and conventions around the state.

"We need to market New Mexico. It’s been shut down. We have not really reopened in any formal fashion. And so money for the tourism department is very important right now," said Wight.

The association is also backing a proposed $5 million for the pro-start program – to steer high school students into the industry. And another $25 million for hospitality job training.

Wight hopes help from the legislature will give the industry a much-needed boost.

"We’re the second-largest private employer in New Mexico. And so it makes a big difference if we’re out there offering jobs and working and like I say, we’ve got a lot of jobs to offer and not many people taking those jobs."