Economic Development Week in Greater Gallup, New Mexico: ‘Building On Our Assets’

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

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Economic Development Week (EDW) is May 8-14. EDW was established in 2016 by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) — the largest professional membership organization for economic developers — to recognize the unique role that economic development has in creating thriving communities with strong economies. The week serves to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and improve communities’ quality of life.

Building Our Assets

In Gallup and McKinley County, Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation (GGEDC) and our partners have a host of weeklong activities planned to highlight our positive economic impact on our vibrant New Mexico communities. This year’s focus is “Building On Our Assets.” In Greater Gallup, there are many successes and assets to review, celebrate, and look forward to in the near future.

Award-Winning Economic Development Corporation

At the International Economic Development Council 2021 Annual Conference, Excellence in Economic Development Awards were given to the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships and the year’s most influential leaders. GGEDC won a Gold Rank in Business Retention and Expansion for its McKinley Paper Company Expansion. This is quite an achievement, considering the IEDC has over 5,000 members and received over 500 submissions from four countries in 25 categories. GGEDC works tirelessly with its partners to support entrepreneurs, small businesses, and regional industry.

Arts and Culture

The arts, especially Native American jewelry,  are Greater Gallup’s largest and most productive cottage industry. They directly contribute to the regional economy in terms of gross receipts and are essential to the success of significant economic development initiatives such as tourism, quality of life improvement, and business and employee recruitment and retention.

Following their mission to “foster creativity, culture, commerce, and quality of life in Gallup and McKinley County through the arts,” gallupARTS is expanding its downtown gallery programs and ongoing efforts to increase show and sales opportunities for local artists and creatives. Their already robust suite of programs includes two art galleries, artist talks, art and music festivals, youth art programs, art classes, and public art projects.  

In February, it opened the Artist Lift Zone at ART123 Gallery to provide artists with the tools and services needed to start and grow e-commerce ventures. With support from the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), gallupARTS is also establishing a Native Artist Advisory Council to undertake business planning for a Native Artist Co-op this summer.

Additionally, this year, two new programs are being launched at ART123 Gallery based on the theory that economic development is best achieved through community building. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, gallupARTS’ Guest Curator program is providing funding to ten local artists to develop shows that speak to and invite the public to analyze relevant social justice issues. A three-month Creative-in-Residence program, which will engage a local creative in producing an impactful body of community-oriented work, is being funded by WESTAF.

GallupARTS is preparing to submit a $400,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant application to make The Gallup New Deal Art virtual museum a reality. The museum will tell the part Gallup played in the 1930’s New Deal, where the federal government made major investments in arts and culture, knowing they would translate into jobs, stimulate economic recovery, and fortify the public’s belief in the “American project.”

Advanced Air AirlinesLocal Air Service

During EDW, the City of Gallup will recognize Advanced Air Airlines and announce the return of passenger air service to the Gallup Municipal Airport. Through the State of New Mexico Rural Air Service Enhancement Act (RASE), small communities that might not otherwise receive any scheduled operations have the ability to attract scheduled air service that provides access to  large- or medium-hub airports. This program offers a mix of state- and city-allocated funds that create a combination of subsidies to entice airlines to enter the smaller markets in New Mexico.

Air service is a crucial component of a community’s economic development, tourism, and quality of life. Providing local access to the global market can help attract and retain businesses which translates into jobs and economic prosperity for the area and its residents. 

Prewitt Industrial Cluster: A Hub of Hydrogen Generation and Development

Gallup and McKinley County are gearing up for a leading role in the emerging hydrogen revolution by positioning our economic development program to occupy a unique niche and front row seat within the developing and revolutionary hydrogen economy.

In 2020, Escalante Hydrogen Power company (eH2) was born with an interest in refurbishing the closed coal-burning Escalante Generating Station (EGS) in Prewitt to generate electricity from hydrogen instead of coal. EH2 saw great promise in combining the well-maintained EGS facility with substantial natural gas infrastructure assets in the area and geological features ideal for carbon sequestration. This pivot would also allow McKinley Paper Company to have continued access to steam for their manufacturing processes.

In February, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an Executive Order to implement measures to foster a hydrogen economy. Recognizing the risks of climate change and the need to avert potential threats to people’s health and safety, quality of life, and economic growth, the Order is a major initiative to “invest in, innovate around, and build a clean energy future for our state.” It highlights the critical need and initial steps to build a clean energy economy that will change how we generate, distribute, and consume energy.

Prompted by Biden’s Hydrogen Hub Initiative, which offers $8 billion to be split among four
hydrogen hubs in the country, the Governor entered New Mexico into a four-state agreement with Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. The goal is to develop a hydrogen economy by building on the states’ high-quality solar, wind, biomass, oil and gas industries, favorable geology for carbon management, world-class academic institutions and labs, and emerging public and private initiatives.

The four “Western Inter-States Hydrogen Hub” states will jointly develop a proposal to the U.S.
Department of Energy in an effort to be awarded regional hydrogen hub status. McKinley County’s task will be to demonstrate within that proposal the region’s qualities for the development of a world-class hydrogen hub: substantial energy and transportation assets. 

Historic Downtown Gallup

Historic Downtown Gallup is the heartbeat and center of civic life, the arts, and cultural experiences and activities that celebrate the region’s multicultural heritage and diversity. Gallup supports a balanced mix of uses and services for people living, working, visiting, and enjoying Downtown.

Gallup Business Improvement District (BID) participates in the regional economic development ecosystem to produce plans and projects that are actionable, measurable, and repeatable. Gallup Business BID’s long-running successful improvement programs include the BID Sign Grant Reimbursement Program and Façade Improvement Program. BID-managed outdoor events, including the monthly Arts Crawl events and the annual Rt. 66 Freedom Ride Flight & Cruise Weekend have resumed after loosening pandemic restrictions. 

Long-term goals include continuing promotion of downtown public art and cultural events, encouraging upgrades to infrastructure and vacant or underutilized commercial properties, encouraging Pedestrian Improvements, developing downtown housing, promoting mixed-use properties, creating vibrant and attractive gathering places, and much more.

Workforce Development: Southwest Indian Foundation

Founded in 1968, the Southwest Indian Foundation (SWIF) works to progress economic and
labor force development with the belief that proper economic growth, while it must be data-driven, most importantly must be people-oriented. Their principle is to provide a "hand up and not a handout" by creating avenues for families to provide for themselves and by helping to build systems that give opportunities to the less fortunate.

The SWIF catalog business is a prime example of their work. It provides 30 good-paying jobs for local families while also providing income to the foundation to fund its other programs. SWIF also builds around ten homes each year for houseless families on the reservation.

This year, SWIF will take over the management of the Greater Gallup Industrial Workforce Program (GGWIP) from GGEDC. This no-cost employer-led program was designed to give Gallup and McKinley county residents the skills to succeed at in-demand jobs. Participants complete a 10-week training program that involves classroom and hands-on training before being placed in an internship, pre-apprenticeship program, or long-term job. Local workers benefit from these life-changing opportunities, and area employers win by having a constant pipeline of qualified candidates.

Entrepreneur Focus: Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center at the University of New Mexico—Gallup provides potential or existing businesses with no-cost one-on-one business counseling, start-up advice for new businesses, help with developing a business plan, and free or low-cost workshops. 

The Gallup SBDC is a member of the New Mexico SBDC Network, a statewide service network funded through the State of New Mexico and the SBA. This collaboration provides access to additional experienced trainers and statewide resources. Online webinars are available for  entrepreneurs that cover topics such as accessing government contracting, international trade and intellectual property, and more. 

Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments

While GGEDC and its partners are laser-focused on local economic development, Gallup and McKinley County benefit from the Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments’ supercharged efforts to market and hone a regional competitive edge through cooperation. They provide focused asset and data-supported marketing to put the region on the radar of growth industries suitable for the high desert. Future efforts will emphasize growing a new regional development corporation that can provide a broader toolkit for economic development and work to supersize the individual work at local and tribal levels.

Economic Development Week Events

GGEDC invites the press, public officials, our friends and supporters, and the prime movers of economic development in the region to join us to celebrate all we do to improve the quality of life in the greater Gallup area and the 4 Corners region. Find the complete list of webinars, events, radio shows, and details about the social hour here.

Reach out to GGEDC at (505)722-2980 or via email to see how we can help today! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

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