Does NM have an economic strategy? No. But Alan Webber does.

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The 2016 legislative session is coming to a close. And while Gov. Martinez and her House Republican allies spent the majority of the session passing failed crime policies, state revenues were tanking and now $125 million will have to be cut from the state budget in coming years.

For the next few days the debate will rage about whether to find ways to raise revenues or whether the money will have to come from cuts to essential state services.

But it can be argued that the real reason we’re in this mess in the first place is because Gov. Martinez simply has no comprehensive economic development plan (and, no, reducing wages while handing out deeper tax breaks for corporations and oil and gas companies doesn’t count as an economic strategy).

One person who is – and has been – arguing for New Mexico to develop a 21st Century economic development plan that includes a wide portfolio of industries (tourism, tech, food & agriculture, renewable energy, etc.) and investments is entrepreneur Alan Webber.

(l) Carter Bundy, AFSCME, (r) Alan Webber.

(l) Carter Bundy, AFSCME, (r) Alan Webber.

In a new opinion piece, Webber argues that there are “compulsory” and “freestyle” investments New Mexico must make. “Compulsory” investments are those we simply can’t afford not to make if we want to have the infrastructure and human capital to compete: updating and expanding Internet service, expanded early childhood education, more vocational training.

The “freestyle” side comes when we have a good base of compulsory investments. The micro-economies throughout New Mexico that are based on our state’s unique cultural and natural characteristics can and should be “woven into a consistent statewide economic fabric,” according to Webber.

Read an excerpt of Webber’s piece below and then use the “Like & Share” button to continue the conversation on Facebook. (A link to the full editorial is at the bottom of this post.)

A two-part economic strategy for New Mexico

The hard truth is New Mexico doesn’t have an economic development strategy. What we have is a random collection of out-of-date tactics, failed ideological nostrums and uncoordinated gestures masquerading as a plan. At a time when our oil and gas industry is being pummeled by global trends outside our control, a real New Mexico economic strategy is desperately needed and long overdue.

It’s what this session of the Legislature should be devoted to, focusing on jobs and opportunity with laser-like intensity. It’s what every city and town across the state should be talking about in council meetings and town halls. It should be the center of media attention. We have got to get beyond outmoded thinking and the failed policies of the past.

Economic development today is much like an Olympic skating competition: There are the “compulsory” investments every state must make just to be in the game, and there are the “freestyle” elements where states get to promote the things that make them special.

New Mexico isn’t doing enough of either.

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[Read Alan Webber’s full editorial, “A two-part economic strategy for New Mexico,” at the Las Cruces Sun-News here.]