Albuquerque Ranks High in Business and Job Growth
The Central New Mexico region has gotten national attention as a prime place to do business, but local officials say they have no plans to rest on their laurels.
The area gained significant bragging rights when in 2006, Forbes Magazine ranked Albuquerque as the top place in the country for businesses and careers, based on factors like job growth and education of the workforce.
Albuquerque slipped in the magazine’s same comparison for 2007 but remained in the top 10 nationally at No. 6.
Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, says the area will continue to be an attractive place to draw employers and workers.
“Business success today is based on whether an area is both a vibrant economy and a quality place to live,” she says. “Our region gets high marks in both areas.
Debbie Moore, president/CEO of the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce, agrees. “Rio Rancho is a wonderful place to do business, because as a growing community, it’s where we turn visions into reality,” she says.
The area also has been recognized as a place with low business costs. In 2006, Albuquerque was rated as the cheapest place in the country to run a business – 24 percent lower than the national average, according to Forbes.
Cole and Moore say their chambers work hard to promote the qualities important to businesses from workforce to transportation to health care.
“The competition in this global economy is fierce,” Cole says. “It isn’t enough to be good in this day and age. We’ve got to be great.”
Part of the business officials’ strategy to promote the area to employers is by partnering with their counterparts in surrounding counties.
“The regionalism effort is absolutely essential to the rural areas,” says Myra Pancrazio, executive director for the Estancia Valley Economic Development Association.
When industry moves to Albuquerque or Rio Rancho, there are often support businesses or suppliers that also come and can move into surrounding counties, she says.
Also, the demographics for things like workforce are factored into the entire metropolitan statistical area.
Instead of the individual areas competing against each other for employers, the region’s business officials take a broader view, Pancrazio says.
“We look at our competition as Texas, Colorado, Arizona,” she says. “As a region, we go out together and market our region because whatever comes to the area, no matter where it goes, it benefits all four counties.”
In Belen, a rural area about half an hour south of Albuquerque, partnerships with the state have been a key way to promote its business climate, says Claudette Riley of the Greater Belen Economic Development Corporation.
She says the city has gone through multiple certifications with the New Mexico Economic Development Department as a way to create a strategy for attracting companies and figuring out what qualities to emphasize to prospective employees.
“It’s actually helped us create visibility for our area,” Riley says. “Quality of life is huge down here because we’re such a small community but we’re so close to Albuquerque. Being so close to Albuquerque, that’s one of our strongest assets.”
Cole of the Albuquerque chamber says one of the challenges is simply to keep up with the growth as officials work on improving several areas.
And the payoff is evident.
“Companies are noticing,” she says, “both by locating here and staying put once they get here.”