.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

RDC supports the ecology of business

-A A +A
By Katy Korkos

Los Alamos County’s contract with the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is structured to accomplish more than the creation of a plan for regional development. Under the guidance of Ed Burckle, the RDC will begin to develop an “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” where businesses can take root and thrive.The Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is currently underway. The county has a contract for $250,000 with the RDC to create and begin to implement a long-term economic development plan for the area, which reaches from Taos to Santa Fe.Burckle’s team, led by program manager Monica Abeita, is in the process of talking with all of the groups who have an interest in growing northern New Mexico’s economic base: county and city governments, Los Alamos National Laboratory officials, school superintendents and principals, university/ community college officials and educators, business owners, tribal councils, and additional individuals.“We want to leverage the ongoing economic development projects that have been started by other entities,” Burckle said. “Clearly, I don’t want to anticipate what the results might be, but we are hearing some common themes. All successful communities have well-developed infrastructure, and transportation, communication, health care and education are all interconnected from an economic development standpoint. The workforce, appropriate housing and a favorable business climate are all a part of the economic development ecosystem.”After reviewing the results of 60 stakeholders and getting their feedback, “the constituents see renewable energy as one of the areas that holds extraordinary promise for a new economy in Northern New Mexico,” Burckle said. “We want to work closely with the national labs to see that come to fruition.”Burckle said his team is going to spend most of February analyzing the interviews, as well as any economic development plans that already exist, and come up with groupings of categories. “Then we’ll go back to the stakeholders with findings to see if we can develop some projects,” he said. “Our goal is to develop a prioritized list of projects. We’ll go back to the stakeholders to see if they feel we’ve got it right, and then we’ll bring a large group together in a public meeting.” He estimated that the draft plan would be ready in early June, providing the group with a funding strategy we can take to the legislature.“We still expect every community to each have its own economic development plans, but we expect this regional plan to cut across local boundaries and form the basis for broader support of common initiatives,” he said. “I really want to commend Los Alamos County Council for having the vision to support development across the region.”He added, “Los Alamos County has the foresight and political will to be the ultimate team player in an area that historically has not collaborated on mutual concerns and issues.”He said his team would  know whether the joint effort has been successful by the outcomes it produces. “If all we get is another economic development study that gathers dust on a government worker’s desk, we will have failed,” he said. “If, however, we identify regional economic development projects and then see them through to completion, it will have been well worth the investment.” The RDC got its start as a Community Reuse Organization, originally funded by the Department of Energy to support communities affected by downsizing at the national laboratories. Since its formation in 1996, the RDC has facilitated projects from large to small, including guiding the creation of the North Central New Mexico Regional Transit District and the Mesalands Community College North American Wind Research and Training Center in Tucumcari, as well as bringing wireless broadband to the Chama Valley.The RDC is working in many other areas in addition to the REDI plan, with its biggest ongoing program being the RDC’s institutional agreement with LANS, LLC. Burckle cited the LANS LLC economic development project known as Northern New Mexico Connect as a prime example of harmonizing complementqry efforts. “NNM Connect is building the framework for an entrepreneurial community in the region,” he said, “one that not only takes advantage of technology transfer from LANL and accelerates business growth, but serves as a platform for making the region’s future economy less reliant on laboratory employment.”The focus of that agreement is to help with enterprise development and enterprise acceleration, he said. “We now have six northern New Mexico technology based businesses under contract at $100,000 per company,” Burckle said. “The key to having a successful start-up company is to have a sellable product embodied in a sound business plan. Those companies will be able to take their products to the marketplace faster. Money is always attracted to good ideas.”He said LANS was vital to the area’s economy and complimented its efforts so far.  “We can tell that the commitment of LANS to economic development is real,” he said.