Every year in the Legislature we see dueling jobs packages. This year, the focus is on one package coming out of the Jobs Council.
The council is an interim committee, co-chaired by House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, and Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces. Between sessions, the nonpartisan council met and, with input from business and economic developers, produced something like a road map.
Usually economic development bills range from inspired to inane. Because few legislators understand economic development, their proposals have more to do with party dogma than job creation.
One of the first things Martinez did last year was bring in Mark Lautman, a veteran economic developer who has taken to speaking and writing about the process, and, along the way, become something of an economic development guru in New Mexico. He’s demonstrated that economic development isn’t wishful thinking. It’s a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other discipline.
When I met him in the 1980s, he was working in Grants. The uranium industry had crashed, and Grants was trying desperately to survive. The walls of Lautman’s office were covered with charts and lists. And, boy, was he busy!
Back then, this was economic development: