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Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth

The December 11, 2009 Mayor's Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth was moderated by former Santa Fe Reporter Columnist Zane Fischer. The Forum opened with comments by Mayor Coss, followed by a panel discussion and community comments. The panelists were:

  • Rebecca Wurzburger, Mayor Pro-tem, and District 1 City Councilor
  • Michael Halsey, Economist, Business Futures
  • Marie Longserre, President and CEO, Santa Fe Business Incubator
  • Fidel Gutierrez, Senior Vice President, Los Alamos National Bank - Santa Fe
  • Randy Grissom, Interim Director, Sustainable Technologies Center, Santa Fe Community College
  • Jon Hendry, Business Agent, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Feedback and Comments were collated and summarized in the links below to Community Suggestions & Ideas, and Suggested Federal Policy Highlights.

Community Suggestions and Ideas

Job Creation

  • Job fairs
  • Freight rail port (Carol Raymond - Santa Fe Southern Railway)
  • Empowerment zone like Hopewell district. Start weatherizing homes, hire local people from Hopewell district, then solar panel every 2-3 homes, new light bulbs, maybe even one wind turbine
  • The "green" revitalization of the children's park in the center of Hopewell housing project. Providing green jobs and education. Giving that community the job. Other parks get 200K sculptures from the City commissioned. This park is currently a disaster area.
  • The money comes from local production and savings of water and energy. The more we keep in our pockets, the more we have to spend, stimulating job creation.
  • Help make farming a middle class job.
  • Tours of City Hall and County Government so that all citizens know about government
  • Address immediate unemployment with WPA style programs. Long term - with the schools failing as they are the workers of the future will not be of the quality we need.
  • More incentives for domestic production of goodsInvest in public transportation options to allow people to go out at night and have drinks and socialize and not drive after drinking
  • Community kitchen to support culinary entrepreneurs
  • Expand local recycling -- especially plastic bottles -- to create new jobs
  • Even if building projects go to out of town firms, use construction workers from Santa Fe
  • Promote/give incentives to venture capitalists
  • More technology
  • There is way too much overlap with all these non-profits in town. Lots of volunteer opportunities, but even here, most of us are drastically under-utilized. Put us to work! Real work (even if volunteering). Consolidate non-profits -- the energy is too dissipated.
  • People have stopped looking for work because they don't have incentives -- only lower-paying jobs available and pay the same as UI. Government should incentivize UI payments to keep looking. Give bonuses for finding a job in 3 months, less for 6 months, etc.
  • There is so much untapped energy in this town. I've been describing Santa Fe as 'constipated'. Since moving here I have met so many who are in the same boat - smart, graduate level educated, really wanting to participate in the community, to make it even more vibrant with a great quality of life - with nowhere to put this energy! So many of us trying to promote our businesses, our practices, and having to take on jobs at retail stores (for minimum wage), or dog walking and such.
  • These are professionals. PhD's driving cabs? How do we utilize the smarts in this town? Is there a way of posting what skills Santa Fe is looking for, needs - even if there aren't jobs yet? Perhaps such positions can turn into jobs, e.g. for tourism, the film industry, energy, health, etc.
  • Move beyond just capital improvement funds - create jobs to take care of our existing infrastructure - especially trails, open space, and public parks
  • Use skill set of unemployed construction workers somehow?
  • Create a community/city run one-stop career resource center where local businesses can search for trainable employees.
  • Every school should have after school care

Education and Job Training

  • Job sharing programs
  • Use arts non-profits to train arts administrators and other arts workers
  • Entrepreneurial mentorship
  • Arts founded entrepreneurship training
  • Training childcare workers - increase SFCC classes
  • Summer internships for local students
  • Reverse internships - young people teach older adults how to improve their technology use
  • Christus St. Vincent Hospital addresses training and education issues through a workforce development program to train people for our jobs needed for the future.
  • Intergenerational learning opportunities at libraries, etc.
  • New Mexico Coalition for Literacy -- holds informative seminars for adult literacy and offers free literacy tutoring
  • Audit and assess cost effectiveness and real community impact of established training and business development programs (i.e. DOL, WIA, etc.). Is money creating real impacts or creating static, wasteful institutions?

Small / Local Business

  • Small business expansion through miniature, compact stores in shopping centers
  • Stop demonizing corporations. They create hundreds of jobs for locals
  • More construction bids going to local Santa Fe businesses
  • Keep supporting the business incubator and SCORE workshops
  • Create ongoing dialogue with small business owners to include our experiences in the growth and development of our city's ordinances that will/can effect our efforts to grow our businesses, create jobs, and keep our money local
  • Invest in the 2nd Street business district to create another local revenue hub
  • Change focus of economic development to project based work. Small business is created from serial projects
  • New town projects incorporate compact development with many franchises or businesses
  • Build collaboration between small businesses and non-profits
  • Promote more co-op businesses
  • Invest in the buy local campaign
  • Economic support for exisiting businesses
  • Create 'materials depot' where businesses can donate paint or other supplies (for tax benefits) that other small businesses and non-profits can get free or low cost materials
  • Create strategic depth in industries that 'fit' Santa Fe

Economic Development

  • Bring broadband to Santa Fe
  • What could we do with the airport?
  • Be sincere about the 'City Different' -- Do not allow more sprawl
  • Redesign Cerrillos Road for a welcoming look
  • Move forward on the St. Michaels project
  • Create an economic development CDBG program like NSP and let it address < 100% AMI
  • Expand Santa Fe's identity to outside of downtown

Youth

  • City promotions through ads -- youth arts, fine arts for children, SFPS arts and music, SF youth smyphony
  • The youth is our future -- every youth failed in education is money lost. Invest in youth works and programs that push for bettering the lives of youth and their future.
  • School youth corps for environmental improvement
  • How do you align high school curriculum to meet current job demands
  • What about the workforce that are not going to college? What about our drop outs? At this time YouthWorks is the only place for at risk students for a job.
  • Youth corps for snow removal on sidewalks
  • Cooking skills for all children and youth
  • Prize competitions for local young entrepreneurs
  • Create more opportunities for local youth and young andults
  • Improve schools so we can retain young professionals in our community
  • There needs to be more discussion about a fundamental change in our education. The current system does our children a disservice by teaching complacency and intellectual dependency. We need to facilitate the opening and development of creative minds. These innovative thinkers are the future of our economy. We don't need people who can follow orders, but people who can think outside the box. Invest in new schools with smaller student to teacher ratios.
  • Invest in the long term -- youth. Focus on schools and youth training programs.

Banks / Finance

  • Get lenders / banks lending again
  • Need new innovative, risky, high impact local investments across sectors
  • Bank regulators are clogging our local economies and killing small business
  • Low interest loans to but-out high interest credit card debt with a commitment from the borrower to not accumulate more debt and invest in local businesses

Taxes

  • Raise property taxes to create a predictable stream of funding for city government and adequate funding for schools. A well funded city government can support and stimulate local businesses
  • Instead of begging for federal block grants, band together with other local and state governments to flip the division of tax receipts between federal and local governments.
  • Transfer tax with lower threshold.

Renewable Energy / Energy Production

  • Work with zoning codes to allow for more sustainable energy efficient projects
  • Guaranteed ROI on renewable energy -- see Germany
  • Localization of energy production

Housing

  • Think of an innovative tax system that taxes second home buyers and uses that money generated for affordable housing initiatives.
  • Stop real estate kick backs -- agents sell land to clients after spending months getting to know the clients -- they then direct their clients to builders who pay them 3-10% of construction without the client knowing -- this practice funnels 1/3 to 1/2 of architects and builders potential clients to the few builders who support their practice -- cost of construction in SF is way too high because of this -- no diverse economic opportunity
  • All development/housing areas need community centers with activities for families and children
  • Kill the short term rental ordinance
  • Look at long term solutions like how current land use hurts small local builders and affordable housing
  • Provide incentives for realtors to sell to local home buyers instead of out-of-state part-time residents and speculators.
  • Christus St. Vincent has an empolyer sponsored housing program to help our employees purchase homes in SF which supports the construction industry and allows employees to invest in SF

Tourism

  • More stable industries -- not tourism
  • More tourists -- need for more sales people
  • Dedicated and increased tourism funding. We need to sell ourselves out of this.
  • Support non-profit arts/cultural organizations to increase jobs and programs that serve to enrich the community and generate tourism
  • Make Santa Fe an eco-tourism destination to lighten the ecological impact on Santa Fe and attract high end 'conscious' tourism
  • Tourist tram insurance too high for industry.

Agriculture

  • Community food gardens throughout the City
  • Bring Elliot Coleman here to help us start young organic farms
  • Better food storage for NM agriculture

Health Care

  • Open up city/county health insurance plans to non-profit employees and other community organizations
  • Need more trained home health care workers
  • Workers need community mental centers and residential treatment centers for substance abuse

Arts and Culture

  • Performing arts complex -- develop theater for community
  • Develop arts and creativity center to train artists
  • We have skilled artists working in gold, silver, and precious stones for jewelry. Are there other local projects that can use these skills?
  • Movie theater in Railyard; -- mixed use with movie and arts/cultural center
  • Increased national endowment for arts funding
  • Creative Santa Fe -- arts and creativity center is cirtical to providing focused arts and creative sector entrepreneurship training. Center will also provide affordable studios for artists. Envision entrepreneurship curriculum developed jointly by the colleges in our community.

Other

  • Money is tight, so many projects can't be funded. Use the 'Amish barn raising' cocept. Identify the project for the community. Call out to the community to come together and help. The project will be completed with many hands of the community.
  • Commercial flights between Air Force bases for small community transportation -- eco friendly
  • Put creative sector problem solvers into business plans. They are great innovators
  • Codes enforcement similar to Las Cruces
  • Create a sense of urgency in the city permitting process
  • Have a city wide garage sale or barter system location
  • Stop hoping we can attract another Intel
  • Work together to help those who lose their jobs
  • An elder local peace corps
  • Hold a Town Hall about a vision for the community. We are too scattered as a community to agree on jobs
  • Is there a Santa Fe community blog of some sort where this can continue????

Suggested Federal Policy Highlights

Fund Workforce Training Programs

The need for funded, community-based workforce training programs was the most consistent theme that came from the Federal Policy forum. There are many ideas as to how to use funding for workforce training. Some examples:

  • Through block grants. Economic development and/or workforce development block grants.
  • By funding workers to build community gardens and other projects which can add value (in the form of good production, community building and developing a variety of work skills like problem solving, teamwork, math, science). Use funding to plant emply public land and pay workers who will develop skills along the way.
  • By funding internships. These would put people to work and transfer expertise in the business world. They would also support businesses which could really use subsidized labor. Reverse internships (where young people train older people on new technology) could also build community, promote knowledge sharing and provide valuable employment for youth.

Fund Entrepreneurial Development

Funding entrepreneurial development was the second most consistent theme. This is both good for job creation and how to build the innovation economy, by enabling and empowering would-be business owners with the tools and support (expertise) they need to think and work out of the box. Some examples of the ideas on how to do this:

  • Have 'creativity' or 'innovation' centers which support and develop the skills of entrepreneurs through shared space, reosurces, facilities, support systems, expertise.
  • Fund entrepreneurship/business plan competitions which will spark interest, generate excitement, and provide funding (prizes) for the most innovative ideas.
  • Provide incentives/funding for venture capitalists and other innovative investors. Take risks with funding in order to grease a lot of wheels and get big results.
  • Facilitate and fund entrepreneurial mentorship. Pair experience with drive, desire and creativity.

Provide Incentives, Fund, and Support Localized Energy Production
These actions will reduce emissions and provide workforce training opportunities directly in communities.

Provide Incentives, Fund, and Support Production of Local Goods
Supporting people who make things in this country, state, county, or city makes good economic development sense. The ultimate achievement: producing goods in the community in a sustainable economy.

Provide Support for Existing Businesses
There are many pressing needs for existing businesses, including funding (less restricted loans and grants), technical support (financial planning, marketing and other key elements for successful business operation), and infrastructure (space to occupy, visibility in the physical world and on the Internet and broadband).

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