January 20, 2010

Bright Prospects for New Mexico

Businesses across New Mexico have a great strategy in common for coming out of the recession stronger than ever: innovation. Last week I travelled around our state, visiting with everyone from small business owners to students with great ideas for New Mexico's future. While times are tough, I'm happy to report that the future for New Mexico looks bright indeed. Here's a glimpse of the things I did and what I saw back home:

Making New Mexico the Clean Energy Leader
Last week, I joined Governor Richardson for the announcement of new initiatives to expand New Mexico's clean energy economy and maintain our leadership in this crucial sector. The event took place at Schott Solar's solar panel manufacturing facility in Albuquerque. You can see more about New Mexico's clean energy goals here.

South Valley Economic Development Center
In its 5 years of operation, the SVEDC has "incubated" 75 small businesses to help get them up and running. Their incubator approach includes providing flexible leases on office space for emerging companies. It's a smart model that has proven effective. I met a man who moved to Albuquerque from New York City to open a gourmet cookie small business and was successful thanks to the SVEDC.

Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing
This family-run small business makes industrial ventilation ductwork in Belen and ships it around the country. Like so many small businesses in New Mexico, 2009 was a tough year for Sisneros Brothers, but they told me that they're starting to see orders spring up for renovations in 2010 - an indicator of recovery on the horizon.

A Roundtable at New Mexico Tech
I met with our future innovators for a roundtable discussion at New Mexico Tech. Students and professors joined me to talk about building an educated workforce and forging successful careers. I think we should be incredibly proud of the talent graduates of our state's universities. These grads should be encouraged to stay in the state and lead New Mexico to new heights.

Working Together through Tierra Del Sol
The residents of in Anthony take "community building" to a whole new level. Through Tierra del Sol, they invest their time and effort into helping build their homes and the homes of their neighbors. This sweat equity translates into lower mortgages for better homes and from what I saw, it also builds a close-knit community who cares for one another.

Santa Teresa Industrial Park
In Santa Teresa, new companies are continuing to build southern New Mexico's economic base. I toured through the industrial park and was impressed to see the opportunities for high tech and clean energy growth in the region.

New Voice of Business
I finished off last week by addressing New Mexico's chapter of the New Voice of Business. It was exciting to see such a talented group of New Mexico's business leaders focusing on the promise of a clean energy economy for our state. I discussed the clean energy legislation moving through Congress and the impact it will have in New Mexico. You can watch the full video below.

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The businesses and organizations that I visited around New Mexico are all innovators, but they share another trait as well. They are all using good New Mexico commonsense to persevere through bad economic times.

In Washington I'm applying that same commonsense approach to fight for legislation that helps relieve the burden faced by our small businesses, their employees and our next generation of working New Mexicans. I have introduced legislation to create more and improve existing small business developments centers. I support tax breaks for companies that have been hit by losses, extending Recovery Act provisions allowing small businesses to expense operating costs, and expanding loan guarantees through the Small Business Administration. And I am also working to pass a clean energy bill that provides incentives for our businesses to continue to lead in the clean energy economy.

Our small businesses are the backbone of the New Mexico economy and I am bringing the lessons of these companies and their excellent employees back to the Congress so that we can pass legislation that brings help to those who need it.