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If you own a business or are thinking about starting one and you need help, who you gonna call?
If you are lucky enough to live in Las Cruces and anywhere in the seven counties that comprise the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s (NMEDD) southwest region, you’re in luck.
You are likely to get a face-to-face meeting with former Doña Ana County Manager Julia Brown, who joined Louise Marquez late last year as a second NMEDD community, business and rural development representative in NMEDD’s region five that includes Doña Ana, Luna, Hidalgo, Grant, Sierra, Catron and Socorro counties.
Brown is a rep with a rep. In addition to serving as Doña Ana County manager, she also was Sunland Park city manager and was vice president for Charles Schwab Bank and director of the Oakland, California Office of Economic Development and Employment, served on both the District of Columbia and Oklahoma public utility commissions, as an assistant attorney general in Oklahoma and in various public administrative and public policy positions in Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, California and New Mexico, NMEDD said in a news release. She also was a United States Army judge advocate general, retiring as a lieutenant colonel and deputy commander of the 75th Legal Support Organization. And, Brown serves as national board chair of the American Association of University Women.
Marquez also has impressive credentials, with an extensive career in local government before joining NMEDD in September 2020. Marquez worked as the director of community and economic development for the City of Sunland Park and also worked for the Village of Tijeras in Bernalillo County and for Torrance County.
As a Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) specialist, Marquez has been involved in more than 30 LEDA projects in NMEDD region five, helping an algae farm add 20 jobs in the small Luna County community of Columbus and helping Saputo Choose USA add 150 jobs in Las Cruces.
Marquez’s first LEDA project for NMEDD was helping Stampede Meat expand into Sunland Park, where it created more than 1,000 jobs.
“We are focused on good jobs,” Marquez said, that pay well and include benefits.
“We’re the boots on the ground,” she said.
She and Brown regularly travel to businesses throughout their region “to meet them where they’re at,” Marquez said.
NMEDD has “the biggest, fullest tool box in the state’s history,” Brown said, to help guide businesses of any size with LEDA and other possible funding assistance, tax credits, connecting to NMEDD’s Collateral Assistance Program, better utilizing the space they occupy and connecting with economic development experts at New Mexico State University, Doña Ana Community College, Western New Mexico University and New Mexico Tech and organizations like the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA).
In many cases, they are helping business owners learn about state and federal programs they didn’t know existed.
Some of the first questions Brown asks are, Who have they talked to? What do they need?
“We’re out on the trail,” Brown said, as she and Marquez travel hundreds of miles to meet with business owners from Reserve to Lordsburg, Chamberino to Truth or Consequences. Or they can meet and make connections with others through Zoom.
“I still felt like I had something to contribute,” Brown said.
She was raised to believe that education and life and work experience “are gifts from God and meant to be shared with others who might not have had the opportunities you have had,” she said. “It’s unacceptable not to do it.”
“The payoff is so immediate,” Marquez said. “When you’re made the situation better, you know it. It’s amazing to sit down with somebody who has no hope in their eyes, who is skeptical that you’re there to help, and then watching that change,” she said.
Contact Marquez at 575-430-1232 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Brown at 575-419-0499 and email@example.com. Visit https://edd.newmexico.gov/community-development/.