Playing for the Long Game with Our Home Field Advantage
6 May 2023
News Categories, Press Release
By Patty Lundstrom, CEcD, Executive Director of Greater Gallup EDC
Babe Ruth once said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
Recently, a former president of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) commented that economic developers “have the best profession on the planet. It’s always evolving and there’s always a new problem to solve.” The current IEDC president added that economic developers play a critical leadership role. Understanding the fundamental dynamics and interrelationships in their communities, “they often provide a bridge and can be the translator between the business and government communities.”
The insights of the IEDC presidents are compelling. Many people only can see the problems and the downsides of trying to create economic growth. Their efforts often are consumed with preserving the status quo. Professional economic developers look beyond the current environment and its obstacles to envision a more promising economic reality, one that we can work strategically to bring to fruition over the long-term.
Economic development is at the core of well-being and quality of life for communities across the United States. It is a group of policies, programs, and activities that seek to create and retain jobs and ultimately facilitate economic growth. Each year, the 2nd week in May marks Economic Development Week. Created in 2016 by the IEDC, the week serves to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and improve the quality of life in communities everywhere. Over the last seven years, GGEDC and multiple other local organizations have showcased the importance and impacts of economic development in Gallup-McKinley County.
This year, daily in-person events feature presentations on topics ranging from how to start a business in Gallup, to generating and training the workforce we need, developing more housing, and exploring economic opportunities in the tourism industry. Cabinet Secretaries from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions and the Tourism Department will give keynote addresses on Wednesday and Friday afternoons followed by panel discussions. See VisitGallup/Economic-Development-Week for a complete listing of the week’s events.
According to the IEDC, the practice of economic development entails fostering collaborative relationships between industry, government and multiple stakeholders in the community. During Economic Development Week, GGEDC applauds the very special relationships we enjoy in those sectors. Impactful collaborations have generated positive, concrete results over the last year, including the completion of Carbon Coal Road in November. That road provides a critical 5-mile-long connection to accommodate heavy truck traffic between U.S. Highway 491 and the Gallup Energy Logistics Park (GELP). Multiple stakeholders have invested in planning, designing and beginning buildout of critical infrastructure to McKinley County’s three industrial parks: GELP, the McKinley County Industrial Park, and the Prewitt Industrial Park in Prewitt, New Mexico.
GGEDC provided technical assistance to the City of Gallup to help plan the redesign of the Gallup Municipal Airport to make it more welcoming to travelers and to house a U.S. Customs and Border Protection office associated with an anticipated Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) designation. GGEDC foresees the FTZ creating new opportunities and tax advantages for manufacturing and warehousing operations throughout the region. It will provide another valuable tool for attracting industrial companies.
GGEDC’s mission to “drive economic growth through building on local assets and strategic partnering to target attraction, retention & expansion of industrial employers that provide economic-base jobs in the Gallup-McKinley County area, and to support & promote a business-friendly environment” has allowed it to remain clearly focused on attracting industries aligned with our strategic transportation assets, such as the co-location and ready access to Interstate 40 and the BNSF Southern Transcon Railway.
As economic-base companies sell products and services beyond McKinley County, they infuse new money into the local economy. Typically, those companies provide good-paying jobs and promising career opportunities. Each economic-base job typically generates over three local service sector jobs. This results in the opening of more restaurants, increased real estate development and shopping opportunities, and a growing local tax base to better support government services.
While cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the local post-COVID economy, GGEDC nevertheless believes Gallup-McKinley County is uniquely well-positioned to benefit from national trends such as product scarcities from supply chain disruptions, onshoring companies requiring enormous industrial buildings, and the growing need for talented workers.
We’re in this business for the long-term. GGEDC and our partners say confidently: “Game on!”
Patty Lundstrom, CEcD, has been Executive Director of Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation since its founding in 2012. She wears a second hat as State Representative for House District 9 in the New Mexico State Legislature, having served the Greater Gallup region in that capacity since 2001.