Using Our Home Field Advantage to Grow the Gallup-McKinley County Economy

9 May 2023

News Categories, Press Release

The New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) works with the City of Gallup and McKinley County to Use Our Home Field Advantage to Grow the Gallup-McKinley County Economy through assisting businesses and communities in a broad variety of economic development needs. EDD does this through forming relationships and partnerships. The mission of EDD is to improve the lives of New Mexican families by increasing economic opportunities and providing a place for business to thrive.

Through a variety of initiatives and programs, EDD has worked with the city and county to develop community projects, support business growth, and increase job opportunities using the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA). McKinley Paper Company, Inc. benefited from LEDA with the acquisition of new assets and a wastewater treatment system as an effort to ensure job retention at the site. The El Morro Theater, also a LEDA recipient, received infrastructure improvements and upgrades that allowed for a digital conversion of the equipment. Currently there is consideration of funding with the New Mexico MainStreet Program to develop façade improvements. EDD, with the MainStreet Program, supported various phases and needs required to complete the Coal Ave Commons project that has meant Gallup proudly has a vibrant, walkable downtown able to host exciting events. MainStreet is beginning to develop plans to improve the Courthouse Plaza and improve downtown alleyways to foster community events and business attraction. One of the largest of the county’s project, the McKinley County Industrial Park, has been funded also through LEDA for infrastructure improvements that will sustain the development of the Industrial Park which has the capacity to attract innovative businesses with large workforce needs. Other programs, like the Local Economic Assistance and Development Support (LEADS), allow EDD to support the local Economic Development Organizations which in turn grow our local economy. As EDD selects projects to fund, the goal is always aligned to the department mission of job and wealth creation for New Mexican families.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department is committed to supporting Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s nine targeted industries for growth and understands there is opportunity for the City of Gallup and McKinley County to develop many of those nine industries which include Aerospace, Film & Technology, Intelligent Manufacturing, Outdoor Recreation, Sustainable and Green Energy (including hydrogen), Biosciences, Sustainable and Value-added Agriculture, Cybersecurity, and Global Trade. Outdoor Recreation has been an ongoing focus, with grants that had been utilized to develop trail systems throughout Gallup and the surrounding areas; as the Outdoor Recreation Division receives greater funding, perhaps more projects will be developed, especially as the city and county begin working on branding that reinforces the potential of our recreation opportunities.

To assist with the goals of furthering job creation, retaining existing businesses, and attracting new business, EDD has Regional Representatives which are part of the Community, Business, and Rural Development Program. Regional Representatives are referred to as the “boots on the ground” that develop the relationship within the community and extend to the different agencies available to New Mexico. Gallup and McKinley County have two reps, Keegan Mackenzie-Chavez, and Lorraine Ruggles, for this northwest area that include McKinley County, San Juan County, Sandoval County, and Cibola County. Representatives strive to guide both businesses and communities to meet their varied economic needs, becoming the links between various organizations to find the best solutions for growth.

During Economic Development Week organized by the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation, EDD has helped with the Wednesday event focused on job skills, available job programs, and workforce issues around ramping up and enlarging a businesses’ workforce. There will also be a job fair to support hiring workers. Check out the Economic Development Week’s schedule for event times for Wednesday, May 10th which will all take place at UNM-Gallup.

Keegan Mackenzie-Chavez came to Gallup in 1992 for a Returned Peace Corps Fellowship Program. She received a BS in Business from USF a MA in Secondary Education from UNM, and a MA Architecture from UNM. After retiring from teaching at the Gallup McKinley County Schools, Keegan was hired in January 2023 as a Regional Representative for the NM Economic Development Department working in the northwest region.

Keegan Mackenzie-Chavez
Region 1 Representative
Serving Cibola, McKinley, Sandoval, and San Juan Counties
Community, Business & Rural Development Team  
NM Economic Development Department