By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Portales’ city manager says he expects more job creation with upcoming projects in Roosevelt County after a New Mexico State University economist’s study showed the county seeing no growth in job creation from last year.
Roosevelt County ranked sixth in job creation among the state’s 33 counties last year, according to the study that showed New Mexico in last place in the nation for job creation.
Though Roosevelt County had hardly any new jobs reported from November 2012 to this past November, job creation increased in the county by 5.8 percent within the last three years.
Portales City Manager Doug Redmond, former economic development director for Roosevelt County, believes that’s a trend the area will see again with the jobs he expects to be created through the Portales Inn and Roosevelt County wind farm projects.
“The Portales Inn will be a big job creator,” said Redmond about the former hotel which is expected to be turned into workforce housing.
As to the little change in job creation from last year, Redmond believes employers aren’t filling out the paperwork that reflects the additional jobs created in the county.
“The data is only as good as the numbers reported,” Redmond said.
Curry County suffered a 1.4 percent decrease in jobs from last year, but an overall growth of 1.4 percent in the last three years according to the study.
Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said he also expects to see a jump in jobs created with future projects such as the Tres Amigas project, part of the areas wind energy boom, and construction at Cannon Air Force Base.
“Hopefully (Tres Amigas) will come to fruition and that will have a significant impact on job creation when it gets started,” Thomas said.
Thomas added he believes the decline in jobs from last year can be attributed to the completion of seasonal construction projects in the area.
Statewide, the labor force grew less than 1 percent during the most recent three-year period, from Jan. 1, 2011 through Nov., 30, 2013, according to data provided to The Santa Fe New Mexican by Christopher Erickson, an economist at NMSU.
Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, said there are measures that he and Gov. Susana Martinez support to make New Mexico more competitive with other states in attracting business.
Roch, who represents Roosevelt, Curry and Quay counties, said he knows it’s especially hard for border counties to boost job creation.
“Even if numbers don’t represent that, the other states have better competitive policies (for businesses),” Roch said.
Roch said lawmakers are often expected by their constituents to create more jobs but the only jobs he said they can create are government jobs.
In order for Roch and other lawmakers to attract business to locate to the state is to change policies that will provide incentives for those businesses.
One initiative he supports is the Job Training Incentive Program, which provides state money upfront to businesses who create new positions.
He said it’s a program that Southwest Cheese has used before to create jobs.
“It gives them a running start but doesn’t give them a permanent government subsidy, that’s what we need in New Mexico,” Roch said.
Though the program has been renewed on a yearly basis, Roch said Martinez has vocalized her intention to make the program permanent.