Rio Rancho Observer
Guest Column
PUBLISHED: August 7, 2016

In just two years, the new economic development organization, Sandoval Economic Alliance, has already delivered results.

At its annual fundraising event last weekend at Hyatt-Regency Tamaya, SEA President Jami Grindatto presented a “bottom-line” number, which represents the “return on investment” on the dollars invested in the new outfit. This is the kind of news stakeholders/citizens in our community need to know.

Historical perspective

A few short years ago, I challenged my fellow Sandoval County commissioners to play more of a leading role in economic development in our community. The commission agreed and took steps to assess and then develop a strategic approach. I also put forth that the county should help fund economic development.

At the time (late 2013), economic development in the area had been done for years by Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation and Noreen Scott. County government had never funded nor, for that matter, participated in helping job creation take place.

Going forward, the idea was that the county and the City of Rio Rancho would align and jointly fund economic development, based on the assessment and strategic plan developed by Mark Lautman’s study.

In 2014, the city and county governments came together (the historical part) and jointly funded ($200,000 each) the formation of Sandoval Economic Alliance.

The private sector

With the city and county collaborating on economic development, the private sector suddenly “sat-up” and took notice.

To date, over 72 local firms and organizations have joined SEA, helping further fund the effort of job creation in our area.

Health care initiative

In 2008, Sandoval County voters agreed to a mill levy in support of the hospital district, which helped Presbyterian Rust and UNM move forward with construction plans to offer additional health services to county residents.

Fast forward to 2016 and you learn that not only has our collective access to health care taken a quantum leap, but the hospitals alone have provided a gigantic economic impact in their own right. Since Presbyterian Rust and the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center opened, they have produced a cumulative payroll of over $428 million and created over 1,350 full-time jobs.

Building on that, SEA, the county business development department and the hospitals have formed the Sandoval Health Collaborative to further develop job creation around the allied health care industry spawned by the hospitals.

Sandoval County is uniquely positioned now to be the regional destination for health care, and data shows this to already be happening, with folks coming here for health care from outside the county and even outside New Mexico.

Building on success

There are many community stakeholders who have shown leadership and the collaboration needed to deliver the results achieved thus far. Other communities that will benefit from the collaborative effort should consider joining SEA, since we all share the same desire to provide opportunity for our citizens.

SEA has the potential to leverage its results and relationships to become several times stronger and more effective as a job creation initiative. To learn more about SEA and partnership, go to sandovaleconomicalliance.org.

The real world of economic development involves a large number of moving parts; better worded, successfully getting deals done involves a lot of cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication.

From the economic development folks at the state level and including state government, coordinating with local economic development organizations like SEA to coordination with the real estate industry, the real estate development industry and local government, it can be challenging but oh so rewarding.

Starts with jobs

While there are many ways to measure the success of an economic development effort, job creation is certainly one of the best ways. When jobs are created or brought to a community, most of the other community building challenges are easier to accomplish (think road-building, flood control, new needed schools).

Job creation helps grow the tax base through real estate development (property taxes), retail sales tax (disposable income) and payroll.

The bottom line

While the county and city, as well as a growing number of community businesses, have invested in the economic development efforts of SEA, the question is, how well are we doing? For a new economic development organization starting from scratch, I am very pleased to report the results have been really good. At the SEA gala, President Grindatto presented the latest results. For every dollar that has been invested to date in SEA, the return to the taxpayer and private investor has been 78-fold. The other important numbers include 1,906 direct jobs in our community, with more pledged from these new employers, and a cumulative payroll of over $76 million dollars; and additionally, more than $10 million dollars in direct capital investments and over 580 indirect and induced new jobs.

A long-term investment

Sandoval Economic Alliance is the platform for economic development in our community. It is a community asset that should be nurtured and supported, so that its to-market abilities can continue to grow and flourish. It follows that our investment in Sandoval Economic Alliance is long-term.

(District 3 Sandoval County Commissioner Don Chapman is a retired sales and marketing executive in the domestic and international specialty organic chemical industry. Currently, he is vice-president of sales and marketing for EVO~ERP Inc., an ERP software company. He also is a commercial investment real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial-Las Colinas in Albuquerque.)

1 comment

One Response to CHAPMAN: Alliance has already delivered results for county

  1. It’s amazing how so much can be done with such information. Was scrolling through your blog and it really caught my attention. I had to save it to read later. Kudos for collating great insights at one place. Thanks! 🙂

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