Smart money is on partnerships, cooperation

By Clint Harden

Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal asked area lawmakers to offer brief commentary on a subject of their choice as they head back to Santa Fe this week for a 60-day legislative session.

A fundamental component of quality of life is the economic health of a region. Issues related to job creation or economic development are difficult because the marketplace is incredibly competitive.

Arguably one of the more difficult areas for government involvement is economic development. It has been said that job creation should be the function of the private sector and not government. In today’s mix of private sector and government partnerships, New Mexico competes to maintain its existing businesses while other states are raising the bar by offering new incentives to lure our businesses to their states.

In the New Mexico Legislature, I have requested an economic development strategy that is sustainable, one that invests in businesses that are committed to invest in our communities and our workforce over the long haul.

As I talk with business owners, particularly those located in rural areas of the state, I recognize that one of their primary obstacles to business growth and development is access to market-rate capital. Unfortunately, the capital markets in rural areas are not as efficient as they are in the metropolitan areas.

In fact, the eastern side of this great state has lost out on several economic development opportunities precisely for this reason. That is why I will be actively supporting an initiative that will be making its way through the maze of the state capitol this next legislative session.

The initiative, called the SMART money Initiative, proposes to leverage public/private partnerships to create greater access to capital for New Mexico businesses.

The SMART Money Initiative will marry the state’s bond bank, the New Mexico Finance Authority, with private lending institutions to structure debt financing packages for businesses wanting to expand or relocate to New Mexico.

Under the proposal, private lenders would continue to be the direct banker. The state would participate in a loan or guarantee some portion of the total amount. In this way, the level of risk would be lower for the private lender, giving the incentive to provide access to capital.

The New Mexico Finance Authority would evaluate each of the proposals to ensure they are sound.

After the New Mexico Legislature passes this initiative, New Mexico will be on par with surrounding states.

Sen. Clint Harden is a Republican from Clovis. Contact him at 389-1248 or by e-mail: charden@theosogroup.com