December 14, 2019

It’s Time for a Crusade

Posted on 10. Apr, 2011 by Administrator in Economy

Last week I sat in a meeting of high-powered people from the scientific community.  We discussed how to spend federal grant money to combat the effects of climate change using sound science.  After an hour or so, we came to some startling conclusions, one of which was  that the group should link its work to job creation. I was so thrilled that these academics ‘got it,’ that I almost sprang out of my chair with glee. For many years, scientific pursuits were firewalled from business, and now I was witness to a dramatic breakthrough. If I were a skeptical man I might have ascribed their actions to a different set of motives like trying to fortify their position and insure their viability to get more federal money, but after working with these people for over four years, I know differently. They were genuinely excited about being able to use their efforts to create jobs for their fellow New Mexicans.

This epiphany should be experienced in all corners of our society. We should all be thinking of the impact our actions have on creating more opportunities and more long-term employment in the Land of Enchantment. That’s not such a far-fetched idea (though I have plenty of those). If we are to climb out of the unemployment hole we’ve dug for ourselves we had better declare we’re on a crusade, dust off our chain mail and mount up together to reverse this horrible trend of joblessness.

There are some disturbing facts that make this crusade essential. Last year we lost over 22,000 jobs (year on year) in New Mexico. Our state government and companies, like those in neighboring states, have tightened their belts. They have jettisoned workers from top positions all the way down the corporate ladder. We have high school dropout rates approaching 40%. We are graduating university students in six years instead of the usual four (though one might argue that’s a good thing because they enter the workforce later). Our small businesses are hanging on by their fingernails. They need us and we need them to be better marketers, better managers, more creative and more willing to try their hand at pursuing foreign markets.  I made this plea last year, but forgive me if I make it again. Please patronize our local establishments and buy their products and services.

Some communities have taken up the challenge. The City of Albuquerque has created a database where companies can register themselves, making it easier for them to find qualified suppliers and new customers. This new-fangled matchmaking ‘Yellow Pages’ is a good start and shows the city’s heart is in the right place, but more importantly it sets the right tone. It’s a positive step by a cash-strapped city to do something meaningful for its businesses and should stand as an example for other communities and organizations to follow.

Fraternal organizations and non-profits have perfected the art of living on a shoestring (not by choice but because they lack the flexibility of private businesses). While many have depended on the largesse of foundations and state government grants to exist, others have shown remarkable creativity in fund-raising and developing other revenue streams while keeping their operating expenses at a bare minimum. In these dire times, they, too, deserve our support whether it is through volunteering or cash contributions. There are two sayings that apply here. One is Chinese: “Give a man a fish and he has supper; teach a man to fish and he can feed himself.” The second is from our good friend, Ben Franklin, (not the five and dime store but the inventor) who said, “If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.”

Let’s all do our part to put New Mexico on the path to prosperity by mining the rich ore of talent and ideas that abound in this (still) Land o’ Plenty.

Stephan Helgesen is a former diplomat and Honorary Consul for Germany in New Mexico. He is also head of his own high-tech consulting company, Second Opinion Marketing.

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