Earlier this week, the Chamber hosted a reception to hear from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on a range of topics, including fiscal and economic development updates stemming from her first legislative session as Governor and her vision for health care, education, and public safety in New Mexico. Governor Lujan Grisham’s speech was followed by a question and answer session with those in attendance, and she lingered after the end of the reception for informal conversations as well.
The Governor described her commitment to economic development and improved governance in Albuquerque and the state as a whole, noting that she and the Chamber led the push for a record-high investment in the state’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) closing fund, more funding for the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP), and a consolidation of the state’s early childhood programs under a new cabinet-level Early Childhood Education and Care Department.
Governor Lujan Grisham also argued for the importance of settling the state’s film tax credits backlog, investing in STEM “boomerang” initiatives to bring highly-qualified and educated New Mexicans back to the state, and funding for public safety infrastructure in Albuquerque – including a new radio communications system for law enforcement agencies and new crime-fighting technologies.
Nearly 250 Chamber investors, community leaders, and public officials attended the event at the Sandia Resort Golf Club Event Center, which was free to attend as a result of generous sponsorships from PNM, UNM’s Health Sciences Center, BlueCross Blue Shield of New Mexico, Presbyterian Hospitals, UNM’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Molzen Corbin, UniRac, New Mexico Gas Co., Sutin, Thayer & Browne, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and Fidelity Investments.
Mayor Keller provided opening remarks, describing the results of the 2019 legislative session as a “game changer” for state investment in Albuquerque and praising the Legislature’s and Governor’s commitment to the city’s success. He specifically noted the Chamber’s partnership on multiple issues, including funding for public safety initiatives and crime-fighting technology, redevelopment of the Rail Yards, and economic development incentives. According to the Mayor, “This was the best legislative session for Albuquerque in a decade… in no small part due to the work of the Chamber.”
The Mayor also took the time to thank the Chamber for being “way out in front” on the issue of homelessness in Albuquerque, helping his administration develop a new approach to serving the homeless that relies, in part, on the construction of a 24/7 emergency housing center with coordinated services and triage on site, as well as immediate access to behavioral health support. The center would provide a place for law enforcement officials to drop off the homeless individuals with whom they interact – a good alternative to simply taking them to the emergency rooms at local hospitals or booking them into the jail on a minor offense. The Chamber and the Mayor worked successfully with the City Council to include $14 million in initial-phase construction and design costs for the around-the-clock shelter in the City’s capital plan, which will go to the voters for approval in November.
The master of ceremonies for the event was PNM President and CEO and Chamber Board Chair Pat Vincent-Collawn, who was singled out for applause by Governor Lujan Grisham and Mayor Keller for the utility’s commitment to ensuring that all electricity generation will be carbon-free by 2040, five years ahead of the schedule envisioned by the Energy Transition Act recently signed by the Governor. Governor Lujan Grisham was introduced by Dr. Kate Becker, CEO of UNM Hospitals, who noted the Governor’s decades-long commitment to public service and particular focus on health services.