Economic piñatas

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I was out of state recently, and met someone who said he hadn’t been to Las Vegas for many years, and exclaimed things must have really changed. I responded no, not really, maybe around the edges, as the population is the same as it was 60 years ago.

When you really get down to it, folks in San Miguel and Mora counties do not want much change. Why, because when real opportunities present themselves for economic development, and the inherent change that comes with it, we always find a way to say no!  Some examples:

Piñata No. 1: Several years ago, one of our state senators provided $50,000 of funding to conduct a required report for potential designation of our area as a “National Heritage Area.” However, a local bureaucratic squabble over “who” should do the report stopped the effort in its tracks. So a means to publicize our area’s many and great historic resources was lost, as well as the increased tourism that would have resulted from identification as such in National Park Service publications.

Piñata No. 2: After several years of work the Las Vegas Wood Cluster, in conjunction with local governments, was able to obtain $500,000 from Gov. Bill Richardson for development of a “Wood Business Park.” The idea was simply to market and sell a variety of wood products harvested from trees in our overgrown forests to reduce the chances of catastrophic wildfire. I admit I do not know where this is all at now, but as I have neither heard nor read any more about it, it may be another opportunity for economic development that has either been foregone or delayed.

Piñata No. 3: For anyone who has traveled to oil and gas country in this state or others, they’ve seen with their own eyes that this kind of natural resource development can be done environmentally responsibly and with great economic benefit. But concerns about fracking have just about put this economic opportunity to bed. Apparently this is the one endeavor that must be risk-free. The chances of dying from heart disease are 1 in 6; lightning 1 in 135,000; and, water contamination from fracking, maybe as high as 1 to 1 million (Aug. 3, 2011 New York Times and a 2008 National Safety Council Report). No comprende!

Please, no more talk about more and better jobs as we like things as they are. I know I do. So keep that blindfold on tight, and keep swingin’.

Frank Splendoria