Matt Geisel

After choosing to no longer contribute funds to the Sandoval Economic Alliance, the City of Rio Rancho is still focusing on economic development.

SEA was created six years ago for the purpose of economic development in Sandoval County. The City of Rio Rancho contributed about $200,000 toward SEA yearly.

In June, the city pulled its funding from SEA, saying there was a lack of return on investment and it budget was tight. The city still works with SEA but has shifted to aid businesses in COVID relief, said Economic Development and Business Relations Manager Matt Geisel.

“In the earlier months of the pandemic, it was more so helping companies navigate the federal programs. Now, we are working diligently on our two small-business grant programs,” he said.

The Small Business Grant Program uses money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help small businesses in need. The Small Business Assistance Program uses funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For more information on these programs, visit rrnm.gov and click on the “Doing Business” tab.

Despite the pandemic, progress is being made in the Los Diamantes Master Plan, Geisel said.

The Los Diamantes area encompassing Joe Harris Elementary incorporates a business park and targets bio science-based businesses. The city has applied for the New Mexico BioSci Authority community readiness program for the business park and other areas of the city.

“These provide foundational underpinnings for future economic diversification and growth,” Geisel said.

To stabilize the economic health of the community, Mayor Gregg Hull created a task force.

“The economic recovery task force is helping the city look at recovery and resiliency,” he said. “The mayor has championed the importance of shopping local during the pandemic.”

In regard to growth in the community, the city has not been confined to a box in efforts, Geisel said.

“It is worth noting that the SEA and the city continue to communicate, collaborate and interface on opportunities,” he said. “A good example is the city’s and SEA’s joint effort to welcome Green Theme Technologies to Rio Rancho and additional outreach to support their growth.”

Green Theme Technologies moved its headquarters from Albuquerque to Rio Rancho in February. The company’s mission is to develop more sustainable practices and chemical formulas for the textile industry.

“The city has always had an active role in economic development, working directly with businesses, business organizations, site selection consultants, corporate real estate executives, local commercial brokers, developers and, yes, businesses,” Geisel said.

Assistant Editor at Rio Rancho Observer