Gov. Lujan Grisham signs economic development bill
Measure will help rural areas acquire needed infrastructure
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed legislation allowing the state Economic Development Department to invest in land, buildings and infrastructure that are not yet associated with a business expansion.
Senate Bill 118 amends the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) to clarify the existing statute and define the roles of both the state and local governments.
“My pledge is to expand economic growth and opportunities to all corners of New Mexico, and this new measure will give rural areas and business leaders an important tool to create jobs in their own community,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
The legislation defines three types of projects in which the state may participate:
- Traditional LEDA projects that create economic base jobs;
- Retail projects for communities with less than 15,000 in population when the project does not substantially compete with existing business. This represents an increase from the prior population threshold of 10,000;
- Rural site infrastructure to create “shovel-ready” places for businesses, including roads, rail, water, wastewater, power, broadband and the like. The new infrastructure must be located on property owned by a local government.
The new rural infrastructure component will help rural communities overcome the lack of prepared buildings and sites that accelerate the time frame for business expansions, said Alicia J. Keyes, Economic Development Department cabinet secretary.
“We know rural communities have different challenges,” Keyes said. “This bill will give us more tools to better target and support rural communities. For the first time, we can help create shovel-ready sites and participate in a wider array of rural business projects.”
“This legislation gives rural New Mexico an opportunity to compete with urban markets by building infrastructure that creates prepared sites for new businesses, thereby bringing new jobs to rural areas of our state,” said Sen. George Muñoz, the bill’s sponsor.
The LEDA fund received an additional $15 million in separate legislation.
LEDA funds are commonly referred to as New Mexico’s “deal closing” fund because it has been critical in competing with other states for business development projects.
Senate Bill 118, the Local and Regional Economic Development Support Fund, passed the Senate 35-3 and House of Representatives 68-0.