The end of the year always inspires at Sandoval Economic Alliance to reflect on what has been accomplished, and motivates us to continue pursuing things still on our to-do lists.

Joe Sierra

At SEA, we are lucky to have many achievements worth mentioning, thanks to our community allies and partners.

After hearing from site selectors, developers and companies that a shortened time-frame and predictable process is critical to developing our land parcels and attracting business, SEA wasted no time in creating a solution. Through the work of SEA’s Product Development Committee, led by Michelle Franks of Studio Southwest Architects, the VeriReady program has been established to make properties in Sandoval County more attractive for investment and helps companies break ground faster.

VeriReady sites have undergone a rigorous prequalification process to ensure they meet a consistent set of standards and have complete documentation, including ownership, maps, surveys, assessments, audits, studies and more. In preliminary discussions with site selectors about this first-of-its-kind program in New Mexico, SEA has received an enthusiastic response.

We celebrated our first VeriReady site, the Broadmoor Business Park, and have several other sites nearing completion to receive their designation. In the new year, SEA will emphasize these properties in our recruitment and retention efforts for economic-base businesses.

Another cause for celebration is the continued work to address the priorities outlined by the Sandoval County Economic Development Action Strategy. This comprehensive plan was a crucial step in helping us better understand our competitive position and develop strategic recommendations to address topics that include economic business attraction, entrepreneurship, talent development, product improvement, place-making and more.

Three community committees were created as a result of this plan, and everyone is encouraged to participate so we can ensure coordination with communities throughout the county.

The Land Assembly & Sites Development Committee, chaired by Phil Casaus of Brycon Construction, has identified short- and long-term sites with potential for development so SEA has sites to market while working with community partners to plan for larger, future development opportunities.

The Investments in Infrastructure Committee, led by Dora Dominguez of Sandoval County, has worked in step with the Sites Committee to ensure infrastructure needs and costs are understood and planned for at identified sites. Likewise, this committee has brought together representatives from utility companies to identify where entities can work together to save time and costs.

While these two committees have collaborated to ensure we have tangible deliverables, the Community Engagement Committee, led by Laura Burton, the UNM Health Sciences Center Rio Rancho program manager, has made progress in learning what matters most to Sandoval County residents through surveys and participation at local events. SEA and this committee are working to ensure this plan and consequent action are driven by the residents who love their communities and have invested their time, money and families here.

This plan belongs to the community, and only with community input and commitment can we be successful.

The holiday season reminds us to acknowledge and give thanks to those around us who provide support and encouragement. SEA has no shortage of people for whom we are endlessly thankful.

Our private and public partners and volunteers are essential to building the economic base in Sandoval County, and by doing so, improving the lives of our residents through increased job opportunities, a sustainable cost of living and improved community attractions and resources.

Lastly, we are excited to welcome SEA’s new CEO and President Fred Shepherd and to support him as he hits the ground running in 2020. With his extensive economic-development background and comprehensive knowledge of Sandoval County, SEA is left with nothing else to wish for as we close out the year, other than the continued opportunity to serve the community we love and work with the amazing leaders throughout our county.

Joe Sierra is a local businessman and co-chairman of the Sandoval County Economic Development Action Strategy Accountability Committee.