From all in the Gallup-McKinley County area, Thank You, Michael Sage!
10 Jan 2024
With a mission to drive economic growth in the Gallup-McKinley County area through building on local assets and strategic partnering, the Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation (GGEDC) requires staff that are committed to empowering individuals and groups to build on their strengths for the betterment of all. For 12 years, GGEDC looked to Michael Sage for much of that effort.
Sage has shifted his focus from his long-time role as Deputy Director of the GGEDC to Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Resources, with the New Mexico State Land Office in December 2023. He leaves a legacy of community dedication and a shining example of continuous striving for professional and personal development.
“The growth and success of the GGEDC was due, in large part, to the professionalism and the hard work of Michael Sage,” said Tommy Haws, GGEDC Board President and Vice President of Pinnacle Bank in Gallup. “His contributions were invaluable in creating the award-winning organization, the state-of-the-art website, the planning documents and research materials available to site selectors, and other important aspects of the hard work of economic development in a rural setting. We will miss Michael but look forward to seeing him succeed in his new job with the State Land Office.”
Sage was hired by GGEDC Executive Director Patty Lundstrom at the time of the organization’s founding in 2012 and continued as the Deputy Director through December 2023. His primary functions included oversight of the programmatic aspects of the office, from research, database and website to marketing materials and analytics. His greatest strength as a colleague was his gifted critical thinking and analysis, Lundstrom said.
“Michael helped set up our organization using IEDC best practices. Within a few years, he became an IEDC Certified Economic Developer,” she said. “One of his greatest achievements is helping retain 125 e-base jobs in McKinley County, using his established BRE program.”
Jeffrey Kiely, owner and Principal of Kiely Consultants and former Executive Director at Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments (NWNMCOG), has worked alongside Sage for 16 years. He believes Lundstrom and Sage formed a perfect team: “Patty was the strategist, setting the vision, identity and outcomes, while Michael was the tactician,” he said. “Michael built up the programming for initiatives like the Business, Retention and Expansion and Workforce Development programs.”
Kiely admires Sage’s energy and focus in tackling the GGEDC mission through several programs and projects, including leading numerous initiatives centered on U.S. Interstate 40. These included efforts to decarbonize the interstate through hydrogen energy and fuel development, autonomous transportation, enhanced rail assets and more. Sage was also instrumental in examining and promoting the feasibility of Gallup as an Inland Port, Kiely noted.
“Michael helped build the GGEDC from scratch with Patty. Today, the EDC is known as a top-of-the-line economic development organization and knowledgeable resource with exceptional outreach abilities,” Kiely said.
Many coworkers highlight Sage’s dedication to continually improving his skills, which is recognizable in several achievements. He obtained his M.A. in Public Administration at the University of New Mexico while working at GGEDC. He received the 2020 Developer of the Year Award at the NM IDEA Annual Membership Meeting for various efforts, including his advocacy for struggling McKinley County businesses during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. In a press release accompanying the award, the NWNMCOG stated, “As a regional agency, our organizing principle is to bring the region together in the belief that what is good for one is good for all. We believe that we are stronger together and only united can we transform our economy from boom-bust to robust. Mr. Sage is an embodiment of this belief and his work over the past year is proof.”
Sage is also a member of the Class of 2023 40 Under 40 Award winners from the marketing agency Development Counselors International (DCI). The selections are “40 young leaders or entrepreneurs who have demonstrated strong leadership, innovation and forward-thinking.” An important fact cited by DCI was that although there were no Certified Economic Developers in his region when the GGEDC was formed, there are now four with more in the pipeline.
Thank you, Michael!
As the consultant tasked with filling Sage’s sizable shoes, Kiely knows Sage has expressed a deep appreciation for how GGEDC enriched his life, leading him to develop his work ethic and knowledge base.
“In response, we all thank Michael for his dedication to continually improving his professional standing while always seeking to best position the community for economic success. We are grateful for his intellectual effort in weaving individual programs and pieces together into a cohesive system that allowed GGEDC to serve the region fully,” said Kiely.
His GGEDC peers know the State Land Office is getting a top-notch professional and an exceptionally fast learner.
“Michael masters the smallest of details yet can maintain the context of tying them to the bigger picture,” said Kiely.
Finally, the State Land Office team will learn what his GGEDC cohorts already know: Sage is not solely about economic development alone. The people of New Mexico may be Dallas Cowboys supporters on average, but Sage will bring an avid advocacy and lifelong devotion to his favorite NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers.
GGEDC is proud to say Michael Sage was part of its organization for so many years and wishes him the best of luck with his new adventure. To learn more about how GGEDC will build on Sage’s expertise to support economic-based businesses, be they industrial, small businesses, or entrepreneurs, contact us at (505) 722-2980 or via email to see how we can help today! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!