Albuquerque Poised to Experience Economic Growth, Diversification
By: Joe Farr, Board Chair of Albuquerque Economic Development
The greater Albuquerque area—like the state of New Mexico as a whole—is facing significant challenges, not only due to a lack of economic diversification, but also due to the severe impacts of COVID-19. Even in the face of these challenges, we have ample opportunity to turn this trying period into one of growth and success. We are an attractive state and location for remote workers, as well as for companies seeking a new frontier—either for startup or expansion. With affordable housing commercial, industrial and office space; with our burgeoning aerospace and tech industries; and with open land to build, opportunity awaits.
During the current legislative session, our lawmakers have the power to increase our ability to offer a positive business climate and attract new investment into our state. Similarly, we also stand the risk of getting in our own way and decreasing our attractiveness to new businesses by failing to focus on the importance of diversifying our economy and creating a business-friendly climate. Without a driving WHY—or a clear path to achieve economic goals—our opportunity for growth and future economic stability will likely stall. And, unfortunately, companies considering locating here don’t often call to say, “Hey, we looked at your state, but you’re not competitive, so we’re going elsewhere.” Instead, we’ll hear silence.
That’s why Albuquerque Economic Development (AED) is launching a strategic plan initiative with executable solutions to create a diversified, thriving economy that will subsequently provide resources capable of addressing the very real challenges of workforce readiness, crime and poverty in our community.
AED has served the region for 60 years. Our board of directors and members believe that Albuquerque should not have to settle for mediocrity, but should be set apart for its unique and exceptional qualities. With these goals as our driving force, a strategic plan will give us a clear roadmap of what we need to do to make it possible. With the support of the Albuquerque region, its business community and its leaders, AED can help turn the challenges into opportunities by creating consensus around top goals and priorities and ensuring our strategic plan is structured to deliver the type of results expected of a best-in-class economic development organization.
We know the importance of this initiative, and we’re already working hard to ensure a brighter economic future for Albuquerque. AED has already engaged with dozens of stakeholders who have provided input on our strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats. Feedback collected shows that our community is aligned on the challenges facing our region; however, there is still more work to be done, and additional discussions need to be had to develop consensus on how we fix those challenges.
Data analysis shows that on a national scale, our market has tremendous advantages and fares very well in overall comparisons. Yet, in direct comparison to our mountain west neighbors, we are near the bottom of the pack. Within this challenge exists possibility. With an extremely low vacancy rate in industrial space in the region as compared to our competitors, we are being noticed as an emerging market. We can capitalize on these growth opportunities and investment trends—like reshoring and the great exodus out of California—but we can only achieve this if we can develop solutions to allow for new speculative space to be financially feasible and for our state to remain competitive as a place to conduct business and invest money.
As a region—and as a state—we must come together with shared goals and a shared vision to leverage our advantages instead of allowing obstacles to stop us.
Now is the time for the community to think outside the box and consider what is possible if we all work together in pursuit of a unified vision for success. It’s time to think big, and that includes our leaders as well.