Public Art Is Tool for Economic, Community Development

By Finance New Mexico

Rio Rancho public art

Rio Rancho public art

Public art has been a force for economic development in New Mexico at least since the Great Depression, when the federal government paid hundreds of unemployed artists to create murals, sculpture and other artworks that grace federal buildings to this day.

Nearly a century later, many New Mexico cities are using public art projects to promote economic vitality by creating a foundation for community identity, centralizing disparate neighborhoods with a collective vision and attracting the attention of businesses that value culturally vibrant communities. One of those cities is Rio Rancho.

“Public art speaks to our culture and how we value the places we live in,” said Daniel Chamberlain, an architect with FBT Architects and chairman of Rio Rancho’s volunteer Arts Commission. “It is a wonderful negotiator of vision. It’s a quality-of-life driver.”

The payback can be enormous, Chamberlain said, even if it’s hard to measure. Continue reading

Economic Development Mandates Drive State’s Nonprofit Lenders

By Russ Cummins, Executive Director and Investment Advisor, New Mexico Small Business Investment Corporation

Economic development is what motivates New Mexico’s nonprofit lenders: The Loan Fund, Accion and WESST. All three organizations promote grassroots economic development by lending money to businesses that need cash to get started or to expand.

Designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as certified community development organizations (CDFIs), they support economically disadvantaged communities and provide loans to small businesses that lack access to traditional funding. Funding for these loans is provided by the New Mexico Small Business Investment Corporation (NMSBIC). The Legislature created NMSBIC 15 years ago to generate new job opportunities and support new or expanding businesses in New Mexico.

The NMSBIC lending program also provides funding to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority for construction loans and to Rio Vista Growth Capital for mezzanine growth funding to enable communities and businesses to grow. Continue reading

Aztec’s Retail Incubator Aims to Nurture Downtown

By Finance New Mexico

The incubator's first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

The incubator’s first tenant, 550 Brewing; photo courtesy 550 Brewing

Aztec isn’t the only town in New Mexico whose residents want a vibrant and stable downtown business district, but it’s one town where leaders are moving forward with plans to create that environment.

Spurred by the city’s economic development advisory board, the Four Corners community is opening a retail incubator in a downtown building to nurture fledgling businesses until they’re ready to stand on their own.

The Aztec Business Incubator (also called the Aztec Business Hub) will host businesses in various stages of development and provide member businesses access to the expertise of service providers from the Small Business Development Center, WESST, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Four Corners Economic Development and the San Juan College Enterprise Center. A representative from each of these organizations will staff the hub one day a week. Continue reading

A Month for Manufacturing: New Mexico Stretches out Mfg Day Celebration

By Finance New Mexico

Manufacturing Day 2015 tour at Santa Fe Spirits

Manufacturing Day 2015 tour at Santa Fe Spirits; photo by Jane Phillips

Manufacturing is so important to New Mexico that sponsors of this year’s statewide Manufacturing Day (Mfg Day) celebration are dedicating the entire month of October to raising public awareness and appreciation of this bedrock industry.

Aside from organizing the facility tours that have been central to New Mexico’s participation in the nationwide event since 2013, the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is collaborating with maker spaces, museums, schools and youth groups to develop interactive activities to inspire young people to pursue manufacturing careers. Continue reading

LEDA Program Boosts Local Economic Development

By Finance New Mexico and William Fulginiti, Executive Director of the New Mexico Municipal League

Tucumcari’s Odeon Theatre, which received funding in 2015

Tucumcari’s Odeon Theatre, which received funding in 2015

The City of Tucumcari generates $110,000 each year for economic development projects from a local tax on gross receipts, and the community gets lots of mileage from it.

In 2015, the city collaborated with the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation to invest locally generated tax revenue in four private projects through a process allowed by the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA). Continue reading

Unintended Consequences: Fraud Against Taxpayers Law Works Against Economic Development

By Randy S. Bartell, Shareholder, Montgomery & Andrews Law Firm

Well-intentioned laws are known to backfire and cause more harm than healing. And when good laws go bad, the taxpayer can suffer.

The New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA) is an example of such legislation. Passed in 2011 to address the theft of state and local taxpayer dollars through fraudulent activity, the law contains provisions that protect people from retaliation for reporting such crimes.

The irony is that taxpayers whose interests are protected by FATA may be liable for punitive damages awarded to a public employee who reported, testified about or furthered a Fraud Against Taxpayers action. Continue reading

Stronger State Economy Requires Shared Vision and Collaboration

William F. Fulginiti, Executive Director, New Mexico Municipal League

By William F. Fulginiti, Executive Director, New Mexico Municipal League

As elected city leaders, New Mexico Municipal League members understand the importance of creating jobs in a state where recovery from the 2008-2009 recession has been slow at best.

Because the Municipal League represents the state’s 106 cities, towns and villages — from small towns like Tatum and Chama to urban hubs like Albuquerque and Las Cruces — we have a statewide perspective on economic development. That’s why the league has taken a leadership role in initiatives that stimulate job creation in every corner of this diverse state.

As league director, I’ve had the privilege of serving on several boards, councils and committees dedicated to strengthening the state’s economy. Continue reading

The Loan Fund to Expand Services to the State’s Creative Entrepreneurs

Creative Entrepreneurs

By Finance New Mexico

In the first 15 months of its CreativeFund program, The Loan Fund helped more than 100 creative entrepreneurs in Albuquerque and Santa Fe secure a loan or receive training or advice to help turn their creative talents into successful business ventures.

The program has been so successful, in fact, that The Loan Fund is planning to expand its offerings statewide. Continue reading

PNM Investments Drive Economic Development Initiatives

By Agnes Noonan, President, WESST

By Agnes Noonan, President, WESST

PNM and the PNM Resources Foundation contribute more than $3 million to New Mexico nonprofits and community partners each year to support economic, educational and environmental initiatives in the communities the company serves.

One of its core partnerships is with WESST, a non-profit small-business development organization committed to cultivating entrepreneurship throughout the state through training, consulting, incubation and lending.

“Through our economic vitality giving efforts, we focus on economic-development collaborations, support of local chambers (of commerce) and providing assistance to low-income-qualified families through programs that increase their energy efficiency options and reduce their utility bills,” said Amy M. Miller, director of community, environment and local government for PNM. Continue reading

Collaborative Model of Economic Development Draws Interest

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

As a legislator for the 9th District — the poorest county in one of America’s poorest states — Patty Lundstrom spends a lot of time educating fellow lawmakers about how their actions affect economic development at the community level. She understands these impacts firsthand, because Lundstrom’s primary job is to build the economy of Gallup and McKinley County as executive director of the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation.

Businesses and governments often operate in isolation, unmindful of how their operations or policies affect others, Lundstrom said in an interview with Finance New Mexico, and this can put them at cross purposes. In McKinley County, she broke with that tradition by introducing an economic development model founded on collaboration and peer support. Continue reading