Economic development update

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By Arin McKenna

An economic development update completed in November gives more details on the economic health of the county.
• Housing remains a major obstacle to growth and attracting new residents. Housing, commercial and land prices have dropped but are still not competitive with Santa Fe.
• Job growth is expected to continue, particularly in environmental work, service jobs and healthcare/elder care jobs. Affordable housing is needed to convert those workers to residents.
• The update lists some promising economic trends in 2013, including record enrollment and completions at UNM-LA and growing airline passenger counts (600-700/month). LANL assigned a $20 million local environmental contract and announced four new projects starting in 2015-17. Two of those projects are environmental, making the economic impact uncertain.
• Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) revenue has been more productive in 2014 than in 2013.
• The new Smith’s Marketplace created approximately 200 new jobs with $6-8 million in new wages. Annual sales are up from $35-45 million to a projected $65-90 million.
• LANL is projecting $250 million or more in growth for 2015.

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