“We do live in a special place; we just want to make it a better place,” architect and business principal Dale Dekker told
a large crowd tuned in to a virtual presentation for the NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable session Thursday morning.
Dekker made numerous points — good and bad — for the state. He also discussed what he saw as a tipping point, a hit on the state’s general fund of about $22 million for every dollar the price of a barrel of oil decreases, not only in light of the pandemic but also the reduction of oil and gas drilling on federal land.
Dekker also reiterated a lot of New Mexico rankings: the worst state to raise a family, last in the nation in poverty rate, last in education, worst state for Mill-enials, 48th-best for careers and one of the worst places for crime, mostly in Albuquerque.
But there are bright spots, said Dekker, a principal of the six-decade architecture and design firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini: the low cost of living; lowest property taxes in the U.S.; 10th in the nation in business incentives; a great place for “Baby-Boomers”; more in-bound than out-bound moves; and “something money can’t buy: the weather.”
Dekker advised it’d be best for the state to come up with a workable strategy, finding for itself the “next” normal, cautioning that half of the jobs in 2025 can be done by robots.
Dekker said, in light of research done by Thomasnet.com, of 1,000 American manufacturers, 64 percent said they were likely to bring their production back to North America, which Dekker saw as “big opportunities for New Mexico.”
With the thrust on renewable energy and an effort to enact climate-change reduction laws by the new Biden administration, the state’s 300-plus days of sunshine — “the lowest cost of renewable energy” — can entice companies to locate here.
“We really need to grow our private sector,” he said, seeking aerospace and defense, biosciences, cyber security, global trade and intelligent and advanced manufacturing.
But to do that, he said, New Mexico must develop a strategic business plan, diversify its economy utilizing public-private partnerships and focus on creating a business-friendly environment. It needs strategic infrastructure improvements, including vast improvements to broadband, where the state ranks 42nd in coverage.
“(Reducing) crime and (improving) education are two areas that we have a lot of work to do in our state,” Dekker added.
Dekker said he thought Rio Rancho — with its low crime rate, great education system and health care — “is gonna be a logical place for these businesses to land.”