Managing in the Millennium
February 1, 2018
The challenges to rural communities in the new millennium are arguably larger than at any time before present day. Jobs are scarce, and quality employment is often even more so. Resources to maintain, renew, and innovate in rural communities are precious few. You might think we’re ignored, but let’s not be too hasty.
In rural situations, you and I don’t do the science and R&D, healthcare development, investments, insurance, manufacturing, and technology innovation that drives Gross Domestic Product, employment, and wealth. We do the raw material and “not in my backyard” industries like ranching, solar, wind, petroleum, mining, tourism, and military/national defense that benefits urbanized businesses, individuals, and the nation. We do it dependably and economically, though with less and less population every year. The best individual economics are often in metro areas. Though it’s convenient to forget, Rural America is still fundamental to national vitality.
Disturbing, wouldn’t you say? Maybe some numbers will help to clarify the situation. According to US Census Quickfacts, between 2010 and 2016,
The nation overall grew 4.7% in population, New Mexico grew 1.1%, and Lincoln County declined from 20,491 by -5.2%.
Median household income in 2016 was $55,322 overall, $45,674 in NM, and $40,065 locally with healthcare, tourism, and retail sales supplying most of the jobs. 26% of the Lincoln County population was fully employed, 12% below the national employment average.
Lincoln County in 2016 was above state and national averages in the numbers of uninsured and disabled individuals, and above the national average for those living in poverty.
And believe it or not, in Lincoln County NM, sales taxes are about 40% more than the national average.
Albuquerque metro is a million strong. Our population in Lincoln County is 4.2 persons per square mile, while the national average is 87.4 psm. It is pretty easy to get lost in that crowd! Dwindling attention to Rural America from urban residents, states, and federal agencies is the logical consequence of urban population expansion during the last 70 years and the dynamic focus on corporate and national priorities that are addressed by the individuals, institutions, businesses located there. Urban voices are prolific and loud, so it is no wonder that our rural input may be hard to hear, much less to grasp. States and national government understand our role.
With all these factors in play, rural communities like Carrizozo face a daunting task to secure the resources to maintain, improve, and innovate their futures. It requires real talent and experience to collaborate effectively with state and federal agency personnel to secure urgently needed resources above and beyond those already in hand. To do so, one has to think and act like a mature executive, to speak the grantor’s language, to understand their focus, and to operate one’s own organization efficiently and accountably, this in order to pass audits and adhere to processes that secure grants, loans, and technical assistance. It’s a portfolio of solutions from multiple sources and disciplines that Carrizozo seeks, since there is no single entity sufficiently endowed to meet all needs. You can readily observe the kind of effective results among neighboring communities like Corona, Nogal, Capitan, and elsewhere.
To succeed in this endeavor, it requires a deft hand. Regardless of how well intentioned, we must admit to ourselves that it’s not the town government of the past that can deliver what Carrizozo must have. In the last two years working with CDBG, Colonias, and Lincoln County, the Town Council has demonstrated a renewed vitality and productivity, notably in areas like infrastructure, parks & recreation, utilities, library, and open communications. In light of this progress, the Carrizozo Chamber of Commerce takes this opportunity to endorse the following Town Council candidates for the March 6, 2018 Carrizozo election, as follows: Rick Hyatt for Mayor, Dan Franklin for Trustee, and Jim Boswell for Trustee. Currently, Rick Hyatt is Mayor, Dan Franklin is a local business owner, and Jim Boswell is a Trustee. These candidates can and will deliver results.
The Chamber of Commerce urges every eligible voter to vote their preference on or before March 6, 2018. Absentee voting and early voting are available through Carrizozo Town Hall.
Gwendolyn Rogers, President, Carrizozo Chamber of Commerce