COMMENTARY: If you happen to work in the economic or community development arena, you are probably aware that the State of New Mexico is considered an economically-depressed area by most national standards. Just as an example, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book has New Mexico ranked 49th in the nation across four child well-being issue areas (economic well-being, education, health and family/community).
Thus, if we go strictly by this ranking, it could be inferred that New Mexico is one of the worst places to be born or live in the United States due to poor health prospects/outcomes, lack of affordable/safe housing, limited educational opportunities, and virtually no access to high-paying jobs or business-creation opportunities.
However, New Mexico is a nice place to live and do business because it has natural and man-made amenities that show the uniqueness of the “Land of Enchantment.” Let’s not forget the warmth and kindness of its people, which make New Mexico a vibrant state.
New Mexico obviously lacks some of the amenities found in large cities, but the absence of such amenities helps people spend time with one another and nurture the much-needed relationships that individuals in large urban centers desperately crave.
I do not know what the future holds for me and where life will take me, but in the meantime, I am happy to call Southern New Mexico home and live in a region that is at the heart of three cities, three states and two countries — and is considered one of the largest binational communities in the world.
New Mexico is a state that was “built in the middle of the desert” and, because of this, its residents are no strangers to adverse conditions.
Thus, the New Mexico 49ers have nowhere to go but up. Let’s rise to the challenge. When it comes to community development, everyone should try to make a difference.
Rodolfo Acosta Pérez is director of family empowerment for a nonprofit organization in Las Cruces and a former research assistant at the Arrowhead Center for Economic Development.