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Event for women addresses work opportunities, concerns

Listening and learning


Making connections in communities, the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women wants to hear the concerns of local women and connect them to the resources they need. The current listening tour is coming to Las Cruces next week, Tuesday, June 11.

Jenifer Getz is the executive director of the commission in New Mexico. She said they have several pieces of work they do.

“We make sure we connect with and reach out to and participate with communities around this state,” she said. “One of the things that makes us unusual is we have commissioners that live and work in all of the areas that they represent.”

During previous event tours, the commission asked attendees what kind of things were affecting their lives, and they said the issue of economic security was one at the top of their minds.

People wanted to know how to make money to take care of their families. The Covid-19 pandemic had been a challenging time for everybody, Getz said. Fifty percent of the women in New Mexico left the work force.

“There are a significant number back in the workforce, but they are not coming back at the same rate as men are returning to the workforce,” she said. “This seemed like a pretty important topic, so we have spent the last 12 months having these events in different parts of the state.”

The pattern for the events includes lunch, childcare, speakers who can specifically offer resources for women who want to return to the workforce, find training or find information about how to promote their businesses if they already have them.

“So, we have speakers like Jo Ann Garay with the Small Business Development Center, people from the Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Development Center, and the college with different programs that offer the opportunity to go back to school,” Getz said.

The event will end with a panel of local businesswomen who have started their own businesses talking about how they got started and overcome some the challenges.

“We have women in food industry, beauty industry, agriculture, baking,” she said. “We try to touch on different things that people can relate to.”

Getz said a woman who attended the recent Silver City event decided to go back to school after hearing about trade programs and accessing scholarships. Instead of starting a business right away, she was going to study to be a HVAC technician.

“It’s a really great sharing of things and often people come with one thing in mind and leave with another,” Getz said.

SBDC director Garay said one of the things that really interested herself and her team is the ability to have a business-to-business connection. She said she thinks there are a lot of things available for women they are not aware of.

“There could be even a mentor program happening organically,” she said. “Business owners in our community are really open to helping other entrepreneurs who are wanting to start and share what they went through. We are excited about the networking opportunities.”

New Mexico legislator and Green Chamber Director Carrie Hamblen will also be on hand at the event.

“I think it means a lot to people to have their officials be there and talk about what they can do at the state level to help their constituents,” Getz said. “Its really helpful to hear what’s going on around the state.”

The event is free to anybody who wants to attend, but they ask that people register in advance so they know how many to expect for lunch. Things kick off at 11 a.m. with lunch, and from noon to 1 p.m. the speakers will take the podium. The panel convenes from 1-2 p.m.

Everything happens at the Doña Ana Community College Workforce Development Center, 2345 Nevada Ave., Suite 101. More information and registration are available at nmcsw.org.