Will commerce change post-shutdown?
There is no doubt that the complexities of our economy are far-reaching. The abrupt and extended shutdown of commerce has produced economic waves that are rocking the boats of businesses and families alike worldwide. However, Small Business owners are the most creative, flexible, and resilient part of the American economy. As entrepreneurs, they see the world through a lens of opportunities. They know commerce will look different in the post-shutdown era and many are already planning for those changes. Here are some changes I see on the horizon. 1. Convenience. Americans appreciate convenience—and businesses will embrace new or expanded services (pick-up, personal shopper, delivery) to meet customer expectations. 2. Businesses learn efficiencies. Fewer employees may be needed in conventional roles. But businesses will create new roles will they fill to help grow our local economy. Re-training may be needed. 3. Online shopping. People who never shopped online before have now experienced it. Local businesses may expand their reach beyond our local geography and we can help by sharing those businesses with our friends afar. 4. At-Home Workers. Working from home has been a fairly successful experiment. Large companies may down-size office space expenses in favor of continuing some work-at-home scenarios. Local entrepreneurs and businesses can support that change with expanded offerings to serve a local workforce that is based at home. 5. Social Distancing. Contact and distance are likely to remain issues for a while. In-person businesses (retail, restaurants, lodging, etc) and personal contact businesses (salons, massage, barber shops, etc) will be taking extra steps to re-assure clients. Those additional steps may result in additional services and benefits for clientele. 6. Community Support. Non-profit organizations (food banks, youth groups, member organizations, churches) were not eligible for government support. They will need additional community support (financial and volunteer) to continue their varied and necessary local missions. Our local businesses, chamber, and community leaders will be working together to re-build the East Mountain and Estancia Valley economy. It will take creative thinking, broad cooperation, and inventive ideas. I believe we are up to that challenge.
Linda Burke, Executive Director
Greater Edgewood Area Chamber
Dear Moriarty High School Class of 2020
May 13, 2020
Today should have been your graduation day, the day that culminates your K-12 education. Although we are unable to celebrate your special day together please know that you are on the hearts and minds of many. Your disappointment and sense of loss for the traditions of Moriarty High School graduates are felt by the entire school community.
I will always remember this senior class. Not for the events that have taken place this year but for your resilience, heart, and grit. You have shown us that you can take life experiences and grow and learn and be stronger people when we all depend and care for one another. You will be able to take these challenges and disappointments to see the world through a new lens. The strength that you have gained will not only take you through this season of your life but future challenges.
Maya Angelou once said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defetas, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” I have faith in you!
Your community loves and supports you!
Teresa K. Salazar, Superintendent
Moriarty-Edgewood School District
On Torrance County and state capital outlay funds
As mentioned previously, as county commissioner representing Torrance County’s District 3, I am taking the opportunity to briefly inform the public regarding various issues that are of importance and interest. Before addressing the second part of the economic development theme that I described prior, I would like to make a brief interlude and elaborate upon trends in state capital outlay disbursement as I feel it will be informative to our subsequent treatment of economic development.
In New Mexico, capital outlay is state money authorized by the legislature for generally nonrecurring needs to build, improve, or equip physical property that will be used by the public and are government or publicly owned. Much of the state’s capital outlay is funded through three primary sources: general obligation bonds, severance tax bonds, and nonrecurring general fund revenue. Amounts vary from year to year and although general fund monies are the usually the most unpredictable, the performance of the state’s severance tax permanent fund has proven to be of particular interest as anyone involved in public service can recall from the insolvency crises of 2016-2017 that resulted in limited capital outlay disbursements in 2016 and none at all in 2017. Notwithstanding, it is important for rural counties to work with their legislators in leveraging these funds and advocating for needs in their communities that may not otherwise have funding sources. Typical county projects generally involve emergency services, water infrastructure, road infrastructure, senior centers, and building repairs and improvements. The individual amounts of typical projects average from about $150,000 in good years to about $25,000 during difficult years. During years of crisis such as 2017, no capital outlay may be allocated whatsoever.
From my perspective, it is essential to advocate for the collective needs of the region and it is important that all local public entities be able to apply for project funding. Therefore, the County, municipalities, land grants, and school districts, should be coordinating and helping to make each other successful. Despite the volatility of state capital outlay, in the last four years, Torrance County has seen total yearly capital outlay allocations increase upwards of $2.7 million in 2020, although this funding is most likely in grave danger as a result of the budgetary effects of COVID-19. If we look at trends in two four-year increments, 2013-2016 and 2017-2020, we find that as a region we are advocating more effectively, garnering more funding, and providing access to communities that have never requested funds. Advocating more effectively means partnering with the elected officials and governing bodies of communities and actively advocating in the common interest. If we consider the two highest producing years of each increments, we find that the average increase is nearly 60% from an average yearly production of $1.6 million during 2013-2016 to an average $2.7 million in 2017-2020. If we consider gross cumulative production, factoring in the abysmal years of 2017-2018, we still see an increase in production of 15%. The latter trend assures us that we are bringing in more money and the former trend points to more effective advocacy as a blossoming regional coalition. Furthermore, if we look at the number of public entities participating in the highest producing year each four-year increment, we find that eight public entities brought in $1.9 million in 2014, whereas twelve public entities brought in $2.7 million in 2020. Projects we have worked to fund with state capital outlay include an emergency services (EMS) station in southern Torrance County, road equipment and shop, law enforcement equipment, as well as rural domestic water and acequia systems, county fairgrounds, community center, SWCD facilities, and senior center improvements. Of note is that four of the participating public entities are entirely new to the state capital outlay process.
The deliverable is that when it comes to state capital outlay great strides have been made regarding increased coordination, levels of funding, and stakeholder participation in the County. I believe in the adage that “coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” I believe that as a region we are off to a great start, but there is much work to be done and I would say that we are currently in the second phase of the adage where we decide as a community if we wish to stay together. For the most part, we have a dynamic and forward-thinking cadre of elected officials throughout District 3 and I believe that we have come together nicely. I look forward to strengthening the bond amongst all of the communities that I represent on the County Commission and working with our legislators to utilize state capital outlay to maximum effect. It is my firm intention that the positive trends we are experiencing with regards to state capital outlay translate into long-term benefit for the public.
Javier Sanchez, Torrance County
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.