Seven Steps Toward Thinking Differently About New Mexico's Economic Future

There is economic opportunity in New Mexico--if we want to grab on to it.
We have everything we need right here to build and grow jobs and economic prosperity--if we take our future into our own hands.

New Mexico's economic future is hiding in plain sight. All we have to do is know how to see it!

Here are Seven Steps Toward Thinking Differently About New Mexico's Economic Future:

1. Stop doing what doesn't work. Chasing smokestacks doesn't work. Attacking workers and workers' rights doesn't help. Slashing environmental regulations that safeguard New Mexico's quality of life is wrong-headed. Step One: Stop doing things that don't work!

2. Concentrate on growing our economy and creating jobs from inside New Mexico and from the grass-roots up. Let's adopt a strategy based on things we can control and things we have right here: our small and medium size businesses, our history and culture, our remarkable quality of life. The answer to New Mexico's economic future is right here in New Mexico.

3. Focus on what makes New Mexico unique--what gives us our competitive advantage. We don't win by trying to copy Texas (only cheaper) or Arizona (only dirtier). We win by being the best and the most New Mexico we can be. Let's proudly build on what makes us, us!

4. Recognize that the game has changed. Here's what state-level policy analyst and author David Osborne says it takes to compete in the new economy: "Government's primary role is to nourish the elements that make innovation possible: a vibrant intellectual infrastructure; a skilled, educated work force; an attractive quality of life; an entrepreneurial climate; a sufficient supply of risk capital; a healthy market for new products and processes; a commitment to industrial modernization; an industrial culture built on cooperation and flexibility; and a social system that supports innovation and change."

5. Invest in critical "software" and "hardware": Software is people; hardware is systems. We need to be investing more in early childhood education, in higher education, worker training, vocational education, community colleges. The smartest investment you can make in the new economy is in people. When it comes to hardware, to grow jobs in the 21st century we need state-wide high-speed internet and better, move convenient air service and transportation links.

6. A willingness to be opportunistic--agility and nimbleness in adapting to changing opportunities as they present themselves. Take industrial hemp: the federal government is now enabling states to explore the economic uses of industrial hemp (not to be confused with marijuana). We should be at the forefront of that opportunity! It's tailor-made for New Mexico--hemp has more than 25,000 commercial uses, from clothes to cosmetics--so we can grow it and then add value with specialty manufacturing.

7. A fundamental re-framing of the way we think about state's economic future: Don't think of "the New Mexico economy"--think instead of "the New Mexico economies"--the nine or ten micro-economies that make up our state's unique eco-system. We are lucky! We've got a lot of opportunities waiting for us to develop: from renewable energy to cultural tourism, from films and TV to emerging agribusiness.

A strategy that invests in these (and other) micro-economies, that rewards innovation and entrepreneurship, and then that leverages the different areas so they support and cross-pollinate each other--that's the future of the New Mexico "economies".