This past year MVEDA initiated an effort to bring awareness to the importance of economic development and the role it plays in the everyday lives of individuals within our community. This campaign, called “MVEDA Matters,” narrated the stories of several people in and around Las Cruces that have been positively impacted by the economic development efforts of MVEDA. These individuals, referred to as “The Faces of MVEDA,” are entrepreneurs, business owners, friends and neighbors. We know their faces and we know them by name. We see them out in the community, whether shopping, or at an Aggie game, or at one of the great events found throughout the year on Main Street. These faces included Richard Coltharp, publisher of the Las Cruces Bulletin, Jeff Banegas, owner of Able Signs, Aaron Perez, real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Heather Salopek, owner of Legacy Pecans, and Tom Hutchinson, co-owner of La Posta de Mesilla and the Hacienda de Mesilla. The #MVEDAMatters campaign was initiated by our Board member Terriane Morrison Everhart of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, she herself a Face of MVEDA, because she has also been a recipient of the positive impact of the services that MVEDA provides.
To understand the impact MVEDA played on each of these individuals, it is first best to understand MVEDA’s mission and the role we play in economic development. Primarily MVEDA, with the partnership support of the City of Las Cruces, Dona Ana County, NMSU, DACC, and a vast array of companies from the privates sector, is charged with the creation of what we call “economic based” activity. “Economic Base” refers to the exportation of value, both product and services, while simultaneously importing new capital and new dollar flow into the local community. A new manufacturer coming to town is an example of “economic based” activity because the widget they will produce here will more than likely be sold all over the United States and the world (exportation of value) while bringing in new revenues from outside of New Mexico (importation of new capital). That capital then flows throughout the community in many ways. The individuals they hire (economic based jobs) are paid wages through this new capital, which in turn leads to greater consumer confidence and greater spending in the community. In Terriane’s or Aaron’s case, it is very likely that one of those new economic based individuals purchased a home from one of them and perhaps they then celebrated at one of Tom’s restaurants. Very likely the new manufacturer that came to town also purchased a sign from Jeff as well as some advertising space from Richard. The circulation of “new” dollars in the economy from “economic based” activity creates greater overall demand for all local businesses. To keep up with demand Heather hires a new employee, and indirect job creation is now spurred. New businesses, enhanced consumer demand, and spending additionally lead to greater tax revenue for the State, the City, the County, and of course our school systems. This same tax revenue can now be used to maintain our parks and streets, enhance infrastructure and community services, improve our educational systems, and so much more. When all this is taken into account, one begins to realize that economic development and more specifically MVEDA actually play a large role in our everyday lives. From a fiscal perspective to better understand this impact, over the past five years MVEDA’s efforts have led to the creation of over 2,000 new “economic based” jobs with an additional estimated five year economic impact of over 1,500 indirect jobs, $69 million in new state, city, county and school taxes, and $476 million in new household spending.
Now although we do our best to analyze the financial merits and metrics of our impacts, one of the most profound examples of impact that I have encountered came from a colleague who simply mentioned that he had never thought much about economic development until his daughter was graduating from college. It was at that point he realized he needed to care, simply because he wanted her to stay in Las Cruces, to find opportunity, a career, and to be close-by during this next phase in her life. I took this message to heart and I believe it is just as important as the metrics previously mentioned. When we think about those things that are truly important to us, we can truly personalize how economic development actually affects us. With this message fresh in mind, we challenged our board members and in a board retreat, asked each to write down the three things that were most important to them in their lives. We then created a word cloud of their answers which illustrated everything from family & friends, to faith, to personal growth, to education, and even the family pet as areas of personal importance. We then asked each to map out and discuss how economic development relates to what they listed. As with my colleague who was concerned that for his daughter to stay close, it was not difficult for each board member to directly link economic development to that which they cherished most.
The holiday season seems to be a time where we take small breaks in our lives to be thankful for those things most important to us. I would ask each of you, while doing so, to go through the same mental exercise and to map out how each of those things are impacted by the economic development efforts of MVEDA and all of our community partners. After doing so, if you wish to know more about the MVEDA Matters campaign and would like to tell your personal story as to how you are also a “Face of MVEDA”, please give us a call.
Happy Holidays to everyone, from MVEDA!