Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is Albuquerque a Great Place to Live?

Not long ago while traveling, when I told some people who I had just met that I live in Albuquerque, one of them responded with the knee-jerk response "Albuquerque is a pit." At the time, I was startled because I could not reconcile his opinion with the city that I love. I believe that Albuquerque, with its cultural diversity, its long history, its awe-inspiring landscapes, its access to numerous outdoor activities, its down-to-earth people, and what is arguably the best climate anywhere, is one of the most desirable places for my family and me to live. After some introspection, I realize that much of the world may not see my city in this same way, and I further realize that there are aspects that need vast improvement.

There are business and civic leaders in our community who are dedicating considerable time and resources to positively affect the one most significant thing that, in my view, holds our city back: a vibrant economy. Economic prosperity creates the public and private resources upon which we build great institutions for our community: better schools, rewarding job opportunities, cultural activities, sports and entertainment complexes, a better and safer environment in which to live and raise our children.

In our highly competitive world economy, there are things that make a difference in the relative competitiveness of one region versus another. In New Mexico, through the inspired efforts of our legislature, we recently passed a single sales factor law. This little-know statute now puts New Mexico on a level playing field with 26 other states when trying to attract and retain businesses. Without it, a state is considered unacceptable as a location for any large top-tier company due to non-competitive corporate tax burdens. Without it, we were not able to compete with states such as Texas and Arizona for high-wage jobs in industries such as manufacturing, service, and high-technology.

This one change puts New Mexico on the map as a potential destination for companies looking to expand their operations. In combination with the many positive attributes that we New Mexicans already appreciate, single sales factor makes our state attractive for potential business expansion. There is an opportunity for Albuquerque to build the infrastructure, workforce and other pieces needed to bring world-class organizations to our great city. In order to do so, our civic leaders need a discretionary capital fund to negotiate with prospective companies and augment our city in areas where it might be lacking. I believe that we must invest in our community via this highly-targeted approach of a discretionary capital fund. It is an investment that may require us, as citizens of Albuquerque, to contribute through additional taxes. The return on our investment will come through the great city that we build for our children and grandchildren. I want my children to be able to get a world-class education, pursue a rewarding career, and experience those things that offer great quality of life here in Albuquerque. Right now, many of our children are leaving our city and state because we are falling behind in economic opportunity. We can change this by working together to invest in the economic development of our community. Let us make Albuquerque a great place to live, a beacon of prosperity and success in the Southwest.

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