New Mexico’s border region could host a wide range of industries, such as global trade, sustainable energy, intelligent manufacturing, sustainable agriculture, film and television, and outdoor recreation, according to a 20-year economic development plan. But analysts say there are barriers to realizing that potential.
A key issue, according to stakeholders quoted in the economic development plan, is education. They note “a clear disconnect between the programs offered by New Mexico’s higher education and training institutions and the needs of industry [as well as] misalignment between institutions and the state’s economic development ambitions.”
Manufacturing, technical and scientific jobs, and wholesale trade all generate much less taxable business by comparison, data compiled in the LFC report shows. Healthcare and construction are also relatively large sectors of the border region economy. But recently, a drop in construction projects has caused a “slowdown,” the report notes.
But, certain border region industries have seen growth. Healthcare, transportation, warehousing, and retail trade growth in the region outpaced the growth of those industries in the rest of the state. Overall, the border region’s economy is growing slower than the rest of New Mexico, according to the LFC.
New Mexico has been investing in economic development across the state and in the border region. For example, more than $12 million in Local Development Act (LEDA) funding has supported the border region since fiscal year 2021, according to the LFC. Several more millions of dollars have been sent to the region through the Job Training Incentive Program.
The border region is also getting a share of movie money. Over the last few years, New Mexico has expanded incentives to bring film productions to the state. From the fiscal year 2021 to the fiscal year 2023, Doña Ana County received nearly $50 million in estimated spending thanks to the film industry, the LFC notes.
Overall, the LFC report notes there’s greater potential for the border region’s economy. “To regain the momentum in the region, stakeholders such as local entities, the Economic Development Department, higher education institutions and policy makers must collaborate to improve capacity in the borderland,” the report says.