SEED NM is looking on with interest at the state’s recent release of “Empower & Collaborate: New Mexico’s Economic Path Forward.” Based on a study funded by $1.5 million from federal CARES Act funding, the plan lays out a 20-year strategy for economic development in New Mexico. With an additional $1 million in federal grant money toward implementation, the state may be ready to make some meaningful investments in a changing and post-pandemic economy:
Ultimately, the mission of this strategy is to reimagine New Mexico’s approach to economic development, beginning with building the capabilities necessary to facilitate statewide collaboration on common goals, like economic growth, inclusion, and workforce readiness.Statewide Plan, Executive Summary
Eric Griego, co-founder of SEED NM, notes some positive signs that the State is moving in the right direction in considering sustainability issues with its strategic plan. “A sustainable economy depends on healthy work environments, so it’s great to see the support for higher wages and more schedule flexibility for workers in the state’s plan.”
An important part of SEED’s stated mission is to “explore and advance business models that […] elevate the needs of workers (including employees and freelancers/gig workers), and create a more sustainable, democratic and equitable economy.”
The report describes six challenges for New Mexico, including a lack of collaboration in economic development; higher education; attracting and retaining talent; not including socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in planning; national laboratory domination in the innovation ecosystem; focusing on too few key industries.
The overarching philosophy, coined as JEDI, spells out as Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusive.“New Mexico governor reveals 20-year economic development plan,” Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct. 26, 2021
Acknowledging barriers such as these is part of a broader, ongoing discussion about the role of a sustainable economy in supporting community wealth, human wellbeing, environmental protection, and social justice. Among SEED’s objectives in this area:
- Advance discussion about the appropriate role of capital in a sustainable economy, the dynamic between traditional financing models and growth assumptions, and how public banks may offer alternative financial models.
- Advance policies to support equitable, inclusive, scale-appropriate access to capital, both public and private, with a focus on serving community-focused businesses.
- Advocate for policies that support infrastructure and resources for small and local businesses beyond access to capital: broadband access, language access, access to financial and legal professionals, mentorship and training opportunities, etc.
“This is not a final product. This is a road map,” noted State Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes when the economic plan was released on Oct. 26 (source). SEED is committed to engagement with policymakers that will help ensure historically overlooked voices such as immigrants, people of color and women are part of the ongoing efforts.