Sandoval County study shows need for “shovel-ready” sites to attract businesses. Read about it in Albuquerque Business First:

Report: Lack of ‘shovel-ready’ development sites hurting Sandoval County

A new study commissioned by the Sandoval Economic Alliance found that although Sandoval County is home to a highly-skilled workforce, three-fourths of employees leave its borders to go to work each day, suggesting a prime environment for building a stronger economic base that creates more local jobs.

The Target Industry and Laborshed Study conducted by Austin, Texas-based Avalanche Consulting called for a countywide comprehensive economic strategy focusing “highest priority and urgency” on developing more shovel-ready development sites to attract new businesses.

The study recommended targeting three clusters for business attraction: life sciences, professional services and support, and advanced technology and manufacturing.

The county has several attributes that make it attractive to business expansion, researchers found, including a diverse, well-educated, relatively prosperous workforce.

Sandoval also is ahead of pace on innovation, boasting patents issued at three times the national average across 15 technologies. The excellent schools and low crime rate in the county make expansion into the area attractive for companies hoping to attract top employees, researchers noted.

The Sandoval labor shed includes 334,000 workers, and 53 percent of the local workforce is composed of non-Sandoval County residents, the report found.

Efforts to attract new employers could be impeded by a lack of “shovel-ready” sites with utilities and buildings already in place and by insufficient affordable multifamily housing stock for younger workers, the study said.

The report also called completion of Paseo del Volcan, a project to connect U.S. 550 with Interstate 40, “essential” to the development of Western Sandoval County and the West Metro.

“The findings and recommendations from the study establish a framework for the organization’s new business recruitment efforts and support the county’s economic-base employers,” said Steve Jenkins, SEA president and CEO, in a release. “It also clearly identifies areas that we need to work on to be more competitive.”

The Target Industry and Laborshed Study was financially sponsored by Sandoval County, New Mexico Gas Co., AMREP Southwest, Century Bank, Klinger Constructors LLC, U.S. Bank and individual sponsors J.R. Allison, Mike Skolnick and Becky Teague.

Sandoval County launched a $3 million Economic Development Project Account last year.

Business First was on hand for a Sandoval County job fair earlier this month.

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