By Rio Rancho Observer staff | Wed, Nov 13, 2013

According to a report by economic development consultant Mark Lautman, Sandoval County must create at least 18,000 jobs in the next decade or face a worse economy than the one we’ve experienced the past few years.

Rio Rancho generally has a pro-business environment and has put forward a variety of economic incentives, many of them very effective. And the city and the county have landed some big fish, like HP or Intel.

But those “big fish” aren’t going to be the source of 18,000 new jobs. Sandoval County should promote and try to encourage growth in its most plentiful type of business: the small businesses.

The U.S. Small Business Administration defines a small business concern as an independently owned, for-profit organization with annual sales receipts between $500,000 and $21.5 million and between 100 and 1,500 employees, depending on the type of business it is and the type of product being made or sold. More generally, a small business has less than 500 employees.

And, in the U.S., there are a lot of them. According to SBA figures, in 2010 there were 27.9 million small businesses in the country, compared to just 18,500 firms with 500 employees or more. And the tendency to go small might be even stronger in New Mexico.

Stacy Sacco, who teaches business classes at UNM Anderson School of Management, said there are only about 200 private businesses in the entire state that employ 100 or more people.

“New Mexico, and Rio Rancho (in particular), is a hotbed of small businesses,” he said.

To create the right environment to grow 18,000 jobs, the county and Rio Rancho must be sure they are treating their biggest customers right.

According to a comment by Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack, the city could do a better job of keeping track of its small businesses.

He made the remark on Oct. 4, when he joined Mayor Jack Torres of Bernalillo and Mayor Phil Gasteyer of Corrales for a “State of the Cities in Sandoval County” panel discussion. At the event, all three mayors took turns complimenting the others’ communities. Swisstack praised Corrales for keeping track of its small businesses, adding that Rio Rancho could learn a thing or two.

Here we have a lot more people and a few more big-box stores, but the bulk of the employers are mom-and-pop type stores, just like every other small town in Sandoval County and throughout the country.

In the coming years, when community leaders in Sandoval County and Rio Rancho start looking to create jobs, they should remain vigilant and give the small businesses the attention they deserve.

via Our view: Rio Rancho needs to think ‘small’ to flourish | ABQJournal Online.