By Rio Rancho Observer staff
The emergence of a new public-private economic development organization to foster and bring job-producing businesses and industry to Rio Rancho and Sandoval County offers great promise. We hope it holds its course.
Some details about the initiative, which followed the recommendations in a regional economic development strategy adopted by the Sandoval County Commission earlier this year, were revealed at last week’s meeting of the Rio Rancho Roundtable, a local project of the commercial real estate development association, NAIOP New Mexico.
The county and city plan to invest seed money in the new organization, signaling, perhaps, the start of a new partnership to not only bring economic-base jobs — involving local production of goods and services for purchasers outside New Mexico — to the region, but promote the expansion and retention of those already here. Rio Rancho’s new mayor, Gregg Hull, has recommended that the city set aside $200,000 in fiscal 2015 budget to contract with such a group.
The city ended its 20-plus year relationship with the new organization’s predecessor, the Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation, by not renewing its $80,000 contract last summer amid some friction between the two. Its director, Noreen Scott, who deserves credit for her organization’s behind-the-scenes endeavors in bringing some of Rio Rancho’s top employers to the city, announced her retirement in March.
The new organization has a tall order: The expert spearheading implementation of the regional economic development strategy, Mark Lautman, says the organization will be responsible for producing 70 percent of the 10,000 economic-base jobs called for over the next decade.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the new group hit some rough patches along the way.
There’s potential, for instance, for the city to find itself competing with another area of Sandoval County for a new business, or another community — with different values and lifestyles — balking at welcoming a particular type of business to the area.
And, if this is truly to be a regional effort, members of the county commission who represent the county’s ample rural areas and Native American communities must get fully on board with the organization’s goals and receive assurances it will not leave their constituents out of the picture.
For now, though, it appears there’s an unprecedented opportunity to get Sandoval County and the city moving forward on the same page.
The new organization has a good man in Jami Grindatto, former Intel Corp. regional director of corporate affairs, to help assemble a board of directors and search for a permanent director.
He knows the Rio Rancho and Sandoval County area and its players well. In fact, he was chairman of the RREDC between 2011 and 2013.
We look forward to the new organization’s next steps.