EDITORIAL: Creative leadership key to economic growth

·2 min read

Sep. 22—New Mexicans can rattle off the list of challenges our state faces attracting new and growing current businesses. There are quality-of-life issues like high crime and low-performing schools. There's the ever-present concern of water availability. And there are the business-centric issues of local and state permitting and inspection systems, duplicative taxation (tax pyramiding) and other business tax concerns.

For years it has been a point of discussion at every organization luncheon that we just aren't as business-friendly and competitive as we could be. But as a panel of national site consultants noted at a recent meeting of the Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance, the Land of Enchantment and Albuquerque Metro area have great economic potential.

Laura Gourley, west region director of Grant Thornton's State and Local Tax practice, told N.M. business leaders at the AREA event that successful regions have creative leaders who offer incentives such as workforce training, offsetting property taxes and expediting permitting.

New Mexico, historically, has not grown at the rate of surrounding states and regions. While the AREA panelists agreed the Albuquerque region — and New Mexico as a whole — have the potential to attract businesses, they said the region needs shovel-ready sites that match the industries being wooed. We also need a ready workforce able to fill jobs.

AREA says a combination of state, local and organizational leadership has helped create nearly 2,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in capital investment through expansions in the Metro area in the past year.

We need to keep the momentum going if we are to realize our full potential, and that will take true collaboration by our public- and private-sector leaders.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.