Chamber sees early success in 2014

Mar 7th, 2014

Bill Connor, manager at El Paso Electric Co., reviews the Doña Ana County legislative priorities during Las Cruces Day in Santa Fe Feb. 1-3.Several action items get funding during the legislative session

The most important part of the Las Cruces Day in Santa Fe event, Feb. 1-3, was the discussions and visits with state legislators.

Each year, the Doña Ana County Legislative Coalition (DACLC) establishes the priorities that the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce take north and advocate for during the trip. DACLC participants include New Mexico State University, Doña Ana Community College, City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, The Bridge of Southern of New Mexico and the Chamber.

Every year, DACLC does a better job of delivering the message from southern New Mexico to the folks during the legislative session as well as getting it out earlier every year. That gives us time to speak with local senators and representatives before they head north for either 30 or 60 days.

That extra time DACLC has given to local legislators is essential in allowing them to understand what the organization is trying to accomplish. Kudos to Las Cruces City Manager Robert Garza for putting together an event where members of the community can communicate the list of priorities to area representatives and senators.

As this year’s 30-day session came to a close, DACLC already saw a few of its issues get through the House and Senate. Significant funding has been provided for:

• Job Training Incentive Program, $1.5 million and as a recurring line item

• Local Economic Development Act, $15 million; $10 million in the budget and $5 million in the governor’s capital outlay

• Capital outlay for the construction of the southern access road for Spaceport America – a big one for the Chamber In addition, an item the Chamber has been in opposition to locally, an increase in the minimum wage, was heard. The resolution called to change the New Mexico constitution to take the minimum wage
in the state to about $8.40 an hour and have it tied to cost of living adjustments. It met its legislative demise when it didn’t get the required 36 votes in the House of Representatives.

Many of the legislative requests in the DACLC package will now be reviewed by Gov. Susana Martinez as she dissects the budget. We are hopeful Doña Ana County will get its fair share of those capital outlay dollars.

While the Chamber is off to a good start this year, there is still much work to be done. There are still dollars and support from outside of the community being used to influence and push issues that will affect the local business community, especially small businesses still trying to weather the storm created by the recession and other uncertainties such as the Affordable Care Act as well as issues such as the national monument and minimum wage.

The Chamber has made strides in working with community leaders, but there are still those who do not consider the unintended consequences of their agendas and votes can
cause to hard-working small business trying to survive. These are businesses that are not only providing for themselves, but also are the backbone of the community, providing jobs that support many families.

When community members join the Chamber, they join something local – not from out of state, not something even from out of town. They join with other hard working people where they live and talk about and support the community they love, where they raise their children and grandchildren.

Together, we can continue to impact the community for the better, improve the local economy, create more and better paying jobs, address and fix areas where there is struggle such as education and quality-of-life issues and the discussion is real and honest because the Chamber has a vested interested.

This is the Chamber’s commitment to local businesses. The Chamber will keep working for business owners – their success is the Chamber’s success. If you haven’t already, join this conversation about your home.