Sandoval County’s Economic Development director stresses how vital the county’s COVID vaccination efforts have been in helping ensure a promising future for businesses and travelers alike.

“The irony that our recovery is tied on the success of vaccination rates — who would’ve thought? But there’s a reality to that: We don’t want to go back; we only want to go forward,” Economic Development Director Dora Dominguez said. “All the restrictions have been lifted… We’re positioned for growth, based on the success of our vaccination rate.”

Sandoval County Economic Development Director Dora Dominguezn lifted … We’re positioned for growth, based on the success of our vaccination rate.”

As of Monday, 69.9 percent of eligible Sandoval County residents were fully vaccinated and 78.4 percent had at least one shot, according to the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

Dominguez said there’s a billboard just outside Bernalillo that says “COVID Safe,” something that only reinforces that the county’s economy is on the right path — especially for industries like tourism.

“What does that do for travelers? Wow. That’s a sense of comfort, that the businesses by-and-large went through and got that ‘COVID Safe’ certification,” she said. “I guarantee you, that’s going to contribute to continued travelers into the county, but also even for our own citizens to be comfortable.”

Dominguez said that in normal times, things like studying a balance sheet and knowing profit-to-loss ratios would help dictate how successful a local economy would be. The present circumstances of vaccinating people against COVID-19 are proving to be the deciding factor.

She also said the “COVID Safe” messaging the county presented, in collaboration with the New Mexico Tourism Department, is drawing in tourists. The county showcased the area with video presentations of people on horseback with face masks, as well as people wearing masks at Bosque Brewing Company, she said.

The goal’s crystal clear: Make people feel right at home in Sandoval County, so they keep returning.

“That comfort level — coming home to New Mexico, New Mexico True — it is a true home place,” Dominguez said. “I think it all helps. I think it’s been really positive from that respect.”