As readers of this newspaper know, the pueblos, tribes and nations of New Mexico faced disparities in infrastructure, education and health before the start of the COVID pandemic. The pandemic has shed more light on these disparities, but it has also contributed to exacerbating the losses and obstacles our communities face when broadband is not available and access to health and education is unavailable. hampered by these infrastructure deficiencies. While there has been an irreparable loss for all, we are grateful for the support provided through extended unemployment benefits and stimulus funding for families and those in need. Right now we are looking to endorse the US Jobs Plan and find motivated partners to continue in the spirit that “we are all in the same boat”.
As the pandemic eases with more than half of New Mexico’s adult population receiving at least one vaccine, and most of our fully vaccinated Native American adult population, we hope the worst of COVID is behind us. In the post-pandemic era, the task of rebuilding our economies, meeting the critical infrastructure needs of our communities, and getting people back to work must begin collectively across New Mexico.
We believe that is exactly what the US plan for the employment of President Biden will do. It is a multi-point, place-based plan that will rebuild our infrastructure and our regional and national economies, while facilitating the shift to cleaner energy. Our communities need better and safer roads, reliable high-speed Internet access, adequate housing, clean and efficient water and sewage systems, better education and skills training opportunities, and much more. Moreover. These improvements are essential for tribal economies as we position ourselves to attract businesses to our home countries and to our neighbors in urban and rural parts of the state.
New Mexico needs to become more competitive to attract new businesses, but also to invest in our vital cottage industry. Native American artisans work and contribute to the economy of their home, providing a solid source of income for our state, but they receive little support in terms of financing or business development. “The Native American Tourism and Enhancing Visitor Experience Act” works to coordinate and collaborate Native American tourism between the strengths and opportunities of federal tourism. It is another tool that we can use to secure jobs and income on our tribal lands while supporting the fiscal vitality of the state. While the metro Albuquerque area has seen some success recently, such as the announced major expansion for Intel’s Rio Rancho plant, the New Mexico countryside continues to lag behind. Without modern infrastructure and improvements in housing, education and skills training, we will have a hard time attracting new businesses to tribal lands and supporting those we rely on.
With the United States Jobs Plan, we can make real progress in promoting and revitalizing domestic manufacturing and small businesses. Not only is this necessary for our tribal communities, it is necessary for all of New Mexico. It will create jobs, including new jobs in our changing economy. The plan is a bold proposition, but the investments it would make in America are critical to growing the economies of our lands, creating a future for our youth, and creating a better future for New Mexico and the country as a whole. We urge our elected leaders to support it.