BeverleeMcClureUSETHIS

Dr. Beverlee J. McClure president and CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry.

Viewpoint: McClure says boosting entrepreneurship requires controversial policy changes

Sep 16, 2014, 10:13am MDT UPDATED: Sep 16, 2014, 1:28pm MDT

Tech Fiesta ABQ may be over, but the energy and the ideas surrounding it have only just begun flowing.

During Tech Fiesta, we heard from entrepreneurs like Chad Person of AtPay, a high-tech company with a cutting-edge concept, and Andrea Archuleta, whosehigh-end tea company, Delicious Sip, is now selling coast to coast. These presentations (like countless others seen at1 Million Cups every Wednesday morning) reflected the diversity and promise of startups right here in Albuquerque.

I also had the opportunity recently to visit Roswell, where the aviation industry is booming, providing high-paying career opportunities and local investment. In fact, the next time you travel by air, there is a good chance that the plane you are riding in was painted by Dean Baldwin Painting or refurbished by AerSale.

For me, though, the highlight of Tech Fiesta was the new Entrepreneurship Committee that ACI launched on Monday. ACI has always been the voice of New Mexico businesses, but during Tech Fiesta we stepped into a new arena and asked for input from entrepreneurs and startups: how do we make New Mexico a better place for you to innovate, invest and create jobs?

Their answers weren’t surprising.

Regardless of industry or location, entrepreneurs express the same needs. If New Mexico is willing to step up and meet those needs, we can not only ease the sting of the recent Tesla announcement, but also turn the economic tide throughout New Mexico, grow our own and create opportunities and wealth for our entire state.

Capital

The need for capital is no surprise: New Mexico businesses need money. It’s really as simple as New Mexico once again investing in its own. ACI has been working with the State Investment Council to look at ways the SIC can again invest through the SBIC and allow the portfolio to include more New Mexico companies. Additionally, the cap on the Angel Investor tax credit needs to be raised to enhance investment by individuals. The state can also take simple policy steps to encourage investment in later-stage companies. New Mexico all too often loses talent when growing startups have to relocate to be near a later-stage investor from another state. Instead, let’s work to keep them here.

Taxes

Taxes are as much an issue for a new company as for existing companies. New Mexico’s gross receipt tax (GRT) makes us woefully uncompetitive and gives entrepreneurs a massive reason to do business across the state line. The GRT also makes it hard for our in-state companies to compete with out-of-state business. Overhauling our tax system will take courage from our government and business leaders. While some may think there will be winners and losers, if done correctly, we can all be winners.

Education

Not everyone needs a four-year or graduate degree. It may not be popular to say it, but we need to build a workforce that is effective and competitive, not politically correct. We must invest in all of our citizens, finding new ways to offer training that enables them to enter the workforce in a high-paying career opportunity. We need programs that encourage and enlighten our youth about entrepreneurial potential. And we need to practice what we preach, so that when aspiring entrepreneurs begin their careers, New Mexico is truly the best place available for them to pursue their dreams, innovate and create jobs for others.

By growing our own and creating an environment that fosters growth and wealth creation, we will see the positive change we need to keep our youth and to expand opportunities. The good news is that investing in ourselves is much more cost-effective than investing in recruiting from out of state. Just as important, if we keep and grow local companies, we will be more attractive to out-of-state employers to consider relocating here.