Sandoval County economic initiative praised – Rio Rancho Observer: News.

Sandoval County economic initiative praised

Ken Martinez, speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives, congratulated Sandoval County for leading the state in economic development during remarks to 215 guests at the Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation annual meeting on Thursday at Chamisa Hills Country Club.

“You’re the prototype in Sandoval County,” Martinez said. “You’re the first one to go through the exercise. I applaud you. You have done first what the entire state is doing — everyone needs to follow what you are doing.”

Martinez said the Legislature hired Mark Lautman, economic consultant for Sandoval County, to work with a state jobs council last year when lawmakers were not in session. Lautman provided “the architecture of job creation,” he said.

According to the final report of the jobs council, it will take, over the next decade, about 160,000 economic base jobs — those that sell goods and services out-of-state — to get New Mexico back to its pre-recession jobs level.

The report broke out those jobs by sector and region. In the central part of the state, which includes Rio Rancho, it said the largest share of the new jobs would need to come from health and social services.

Sandoval County is pursuing that recommendation. It has contracted with Lautman, in part, to pursue a health and social services initiative and create a countywide economic development corporation that will recruit companies with economic base jobs.

In a later phone interview, County Commissioner Don Chapman said he was “beaming ear-to-ear” when he heard Martinez praise the county for providing an example to the state.

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, who also addressed the group, said that over the last three years, the lease of state trust lands administered by his office has generated $2 billion, primarily for state schools and hospitals, he said.

Powell gave examples of working with communities and companies, citing a new firm in Hobbs that will use saltwater and sunshine to transform biofuel waste into profitable products.

“We need the confidence and courage to invest in our own state,” he said.

RREDC handed out two awards. Stolar Research Corp. received “business of the year” and Presbyterian Rust Medical Center received “investment of the year.”