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Lujan in town for economic recovery tour

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By Carol A. Clark

Cheerful optimism laced Wednesday’s visit by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan who was conducting his economic recovery tour throughout District 3.

“There are different numbers that have been reported and we’re looking at the numbers hour after hour but it’s looking to be about $1.1 billion and possibly more,” Lujan said of New Mexico’s share of the stimulus package President Obama signed Tuesday in Denver. 

The point of the tour is to talk about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “While the final product is not perfect, it will begin to address our key goals – creating and saving jobs and getting our economy back on track,” he said. 

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is designed to turn the economy around, stem the swell of job losses and invest in the future of our country from increasing student loan assistance to growing a new, clean energy economy that can create jobs right here in New Mexico. 

The recovery plan makes broad investments in critical programs from projects that can begin in the coming months to growing industries that can power our homes and offices for years to come. 

This investment could create and save over 3.5 million jobs across the country, 22,000 jobs in New Mexico and 7,500 jobs within the district. 

Lujan held an Economic Recovery Small Business Roundtable at the Coffee Booth attended by a dozen local business people. “I want to get a chance to listen to you more than I speak,” he said. 

Denise Lane raised the issue of the struggling local housing market. “Over the last two years our real estate market is off over 55 percent,” she said. 

That equates to a $110 million loss in real estate activity, she said, which flows down from real estate companies and agents to appraisers, mortgage lenders and others in the housing chain who are being affected. 

Building and maintenance supply companies are included in the crises. Greg Metzger told Lujan that because homes aren’t selling, people aren’t spending money to fix up their homes to sell nor are they spending money to maintain their homes other than the bare minimum. 

Lane told Lujan people are feeling that the stimulus money isn’t flowing down to the homeowner

“I understand the frustration,” Lujan said, adding he read Wednesday that there is going to be an emphasis on helping homeowners. “It has been a hot topic where there’ve been lots of passionate expressions of concerns.” 

Lujan and other representatives met recently with Obama in a meeting attended by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “We expressed those views very clearly to him,” Lujan said. 

He spoke of the need to bring in new businesses and how that will trickle down to help the economy. “I can’t believe we can’t attract technology companies to New Mexico,” Lujan said. “DreamWorks is talking about coming and we have the Intel investment.” 

Lujan also made a stop at El Parasol Restaurant shortly after lunchtime. There were a few constituents left, including seventh-grade student Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta, 13, who as all Los Alamos Middle School seventh graders, had the day off. 

He was enjoying a soft drink when Lujan walked in. They shook hands and Lahiri-Gupta mentioned his interest in animation. Lujan told him about the DreamWorks possibility.

“It was a once in a while experience,” Lahiri-Gupta said of meeting the congressman. 

Following his November election to Congress, Lujan moved into a basement apartment within walking distance to his new job. “All I need is an umbrella if it rains,” he said.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.