Sandoval Economic Alliance President and CEO Fred Shepherd discusses why SEA focuses on economic-base businesses for continued job growth during a presentation on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at the SEA office in Rio Rancho.
(Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

Sandoval Economic Alliance President and CEO Fred Shepherd reinforced how economic-base job growth can continue to help bolster Rio Rancho’s economy — and hence keep pace with demands brought on by recent residential growth — during Thursday’s presentation at the SEA office.

Economic-base jobs are those that bring in money from outside the community, as opposed to passing the same money around the community, as retail does.

Shepherd said industries like manufacturing and bioscience are key areas to revolve continued business growth around.

He presented data on estimated economic impact, showing that manufacturing can bring in about $72.4 million over five years while bioscience can bring in about $86.3 million over five years.

Shepherd told the Observer those industries can help spark continued growth. He also said it may not necessarily be new businesses coming in, but rather local businesses expanding.

“It could be the local manufacturer that has maxed out their space and they can’t grow anymore… and they add onto their building, and they hire 30 new employees,” he said. “So, as long as they’re able to continue to grow and continue to bring out new employees, bring in new dollars into the community, then we hope they will continue with that sustainability moving forward.”

He told the Observer manufacturing and bioscience companies serve as job multipliers in the community.

“We don’t have a lot of major clusters of a large group of similar businesses that you may find in other communities. We’re quite diverse in the economic-base businesses we have. If you start to develop a cluster (of such businesses), those multipliers can actually even increase,” he said.

Shepherd reiterated to attendees that Rio Rancho has a lot of “gross receipts leakage,” where people are leaving Rio Rancho to purchase items in Albuquerque, meaning tax dollars generated from the sales stay outside Rio Rancho.

“If you have more rooftops and those retail trades set up operation here, maybe we shop more local rather than sending our dollars down the hill,” he told the Observer.

And as housing and business development construction resumes in the City of Vision, Shepherd told the Observer, he hopes manufacturing and bioscience companies can help fill those vacant spaces soon after. That way, other similar operations would see there’s “an environment where they can grow their business.”

He also told the Observer jobs added to Sandoval County via fields like manufacturing and bioscience would help circulate and amplify that money coming in.

“If (those employees) happen to reside within the county, in the community, and then they spend their money, they’re buying homes now. They have more money coming into their households,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, now the grocery store is expanding… Or the restaurants; there’s more people going out to eat…

“Household income goes up, and so now they’re able to buy more goods, they’re able to buy a new car and those types of things to help with the (gross receipt tax) and the economy as well… We need to continue to grow those economic-base businesses to support to the growth of the population.”

Shepherd told the Observer that clusters of 10 new jobs here, 15 new jobs there, will add up to help the local economy.

Matt Hollinshead | Staff writer