02
Mar

Rio Rancho Observer
Posted: Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2015 12:00 am

It’s too early to grade the performance of the Sandoval Economic Alliance, which was launched less than a year ago to reinvigorate economic development in the Sandoval County region.

But it appears to have gained some important traction over the past few months and to have come up with a solid plan for helping existing businesses expand and finding prospects that might be looking to relocate to our part of the Land of Enchantment.

SEA President and CEO Jami Grindatto gave an progress report on the organization at a well-attended luncheon Tuesday at Club Rio Rancho. He cited attainment of 923 new economic-base jobs since July due to SEA’s work and collaborative efforts with other economic development organizations, such as Albuquerque Economic Development and New Mexico Partnership.

He reported that 313 of those jobs are filled positions, with 301 committed this year and another 309 for 2016. Many of the positions reflect S&P Data’s arrival in Rio Rancho last fall.

The numbers already top SEA’s goal of adding 750-plus jobs to Sandoval County each year, a positive sign, one hopes, that economic development interest in this area is on the rise.

The approach described by Grindatto that SEA used to identify companies that might be drawn to Sandoval County seems sound, initially targeting five states in the northeastern U.S., as well as two that border New Mexico. Then, based on the inventory of land, facilities and workforce skills set in the county’s portfolio, it found 155 prospects to focus on that would fit the current “footprint”: small- to medium-size companies.

Customer contact centers — call centers — and companies like DHF Technical Products, which relocated to Rio Rancho from California in 2014 and was announced as “Business of the Year” at Tuesday’s luncheon, fit that profile. More campaigns are to follow.

Grindatto also noted that SEA is attempting to reach out to business leaders across the country, having been featured in a Business in Focus magazine article, which calls attention to the state’s tax incentives and the area’s education, public safety and affordable living attributes, as well as its culture, culture and weather. The latter would seem to be particularly attractive to prospects in the winter-hammered northeast.

The SEA staff has grown to five, including Grindatto, in part due to funding allocated made by the City of Rio Rancho and Sandoval County, which each committed $200,000 to the organization.

Private sector funding support is supposed to match the public contribution. It’s been somewhat slow in coming, but Grindatto’s report that $130,000 has been raised from the private sector the past few months — the annual goal is $400,000 — is encouraging and should enable SEA to be able to more aggressively market and sell Sandoval County.

From what we’ve seen so far, SEA is on the right course to fulfill its mission.

To read the editorial in the Rio Rancho Observer, follow this link.

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