Key industriesTHE HEART OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE MIDDLE RIO GRANDE
Regional Economic Goals
Based on the insights and knowledge of our Middle Rio Grande region community members, we determined five strategic economic development industry clusters rooted in the region’s culture, tradition, resources, and perceived opportunities.
Historically, Agriculture has been a strong economic employer and producer in the region. Supporting existing Ag businesses and growing new businesses in the region is important for the economic sustainability of the region and is directly tied to the workforce skill sets, which are necessary for retention.
Agriculture is one of the core industries in the region. By working to ensure the retention of 75% of agricultural business and agricultural-related businesses, the region will have an opportunity for expansion of existing businesses, resulting in economic growth.
This industry holds opportunities for significant growth in our region. Cities, counties, chambers of commerce, and recreation and tourism businesses can easily collaborate on regional resource and skill development. The growth of visitor, recreation and tourism industries will provide jobs and revenue opportunities for the region. The synergistic effect of this collaboration allows the region to leverage existing resources for exponential expansion.
Increased tourism and recreational visitors will contribute to economic development in the region through the growth of business activities – shopping, tourism, overnight lodging, fuel, dining and recreating- as well as jobs and incomes. It will also increase total lodgers’ tax and gross receipts tax dollars. Further, increased marketing that distinguishes our region from other tourist destinations in the American Southwest provides opportunities for people to make emotional and intellectual connections to our region and provokes their desire not only to visit, but also perhaps to relocate or create business here.
Our goal is to grow healthcare services as strategy to grow high paying healthcare jobs in the region. Increased healthcare and social assistance services in the region will provide professional high paying jobs that will contribute to economic development in the region, provide needed health care and mental health services to residents, and improve the quality of life for regional residents.
Although this is a transforming industry, forest products present an opportunity for economic growth in our region, both for niche lumber and bio mass energy production. The region has tremendous potential for solar and wind energy production. The region has never taken full advantage of its potential resources.
The region experiences approximately 310 days of sunshine annually and is identified as a primary location for wind energy, thus supporting existing and growing new renewable energy businesses is an attractive opportunity. The region has made limited efforts to harvest forest products in recent years, but the region does contain two large National Forests.
Our goal is to improve efficiency of renewable energy and forest product companies, along with supporting companies along with collateral companies in the region due to availability of information with fewer obstacles. Local businesses could be more profitable which will lead to expansion and increased investment and jobs.
Our goal is to grow technology and workforce industries in the region. The region is rural, possessing limited broadband infrastructure. Improving access to broadband is critical to attract industry and high tech businesses. High-speed access is also important to attract and retain residents who work remotely or who are retired but desire to stay current in the technology field. Attracting technology industries requires an available trained technical and vocational workforce. Expanding broadband services in the region will enhance existing technology businesses and universities and support entrepreneur startups.
High-speed internet access is essential for economic development, be it home-based businesses or large retail enterprises. Broadband will support our rural area home-based businesses by giving them high-speed access to clients and vendors. Boasting one of the most highly regarded public STEM universities in the country – New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology – broadband will help retain and support technology start-ups that have their infancy in the region.
Broadband will allow technology companies to maintain a mutually beneficial research and incubation relationship with regional colleges. This includes internships, fellowships and on-the-job experience for both undergraduate and graduate students, thus making regional colleges more attractive to potential students and garnering the region a STEM “college of choice” reputation.
Residential broadband helps retain residents who retire from the many tech companies affiliated with NMT (NRAO, IRIS/PASSCAL, EMRTC, Magdalena Ridge Observatory) but desire an active Emeriti relationship that allows them to continue doing part-time research. It also allows them to use their technical skills on behalf of their local communities as well as generating consulting fees and Middle Rio Grande Economic Development Association post-retirement incomes.
Broadband will help attract new immigrants, who expect to stay connected to the broader world in numerous ways. High-speed broadband allows the public school systems and colleges to use SMART classroom technology to reach more students and help prepare students for a more plugged-in world. Students at public schools will be able to download assignments as they are posted and stay abreast of classroom requirements in the event of weather-related or local event disruptions.