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  Around Town

Economic development planners describe Bernalillo

~Signpost Staff

A new portrait of Bernalillo is emerging as Town government works to become eligible for state money, to be used to bring in business and jobs.

While the state constitution prohibits direct spending of public money on private projects, local governments can provide incentives to businesses under the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA). The law limits the spending to land, buildings, and infrastructure a business might need.

“The business has to be approved case by case by the council,” Senior Planner Barbara Herrington of Sites Southwest told town councilors on October 10. “But first you need a LEDA plan and ordinance.”

Sites Southwest is developing the plan to be presented to the council and public at a work session sometime this month. During her update on the process, Herrington presented data on Bernalillo’s town and people that will be included in the document.

Among the findings were:

  • Bernalillo’s population stands at 8,843 with an unemployment rate of ten to 12 percent. The population of young people is growing faster than the number of jobs, and there may be a mismatch between people’s skills and the jobs available.
  • The labor force numbers nearly four thousand people over 16 years of age, but only about three hundred residents live and work in Bernalillo. About forty percent of the workers are in service jobs with 32 percent in retail.
  • Bernalillo business-needs survey responders listed a movie theater, a grocery store like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s, more independent restaurants, teen entertainment, an ice cream place, and more dental, medical, and urgent-care services.
  • Sites Southwest identified the following target industries for the town to pursue: manufacturing, health care and social assistance, professional services, accommodations, food services, arts, entertainment, recreation, and culture.

How much funding might be available to the town remains an open question as the state struggles with shrinking revenue and budget cuts, Mayor Jack Torres said.

In other action from the meeting: councilors recognized the Romero family for what may be Bernalillo’s first Olympic connection. Hedaya Ahmed Malak Wahba won a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro competing for Egypt in Taekwondo. She is the granddaughter of Socorro and the late Oliberio Romero and the daughter of Dianna Wahba-Romero.

Councilors presented a plaque to residents of the Alegria development in western Bernalillo for their support of the school-supply and coat drives started by the town.

“The response from the community has been amazing, and a huge part of that has been the neighborhood of Alegria,” Torres said. “You have gone so far above and beyond in our eyes.”

“Literally, we have hundreds of residents who contribute to these drives,” Alegria Homeowners Association President Richard Joyce responded.

Bernalillo Fire Chief Michael Carroll reported a survey of town fire-suppression assets by the Insurance Services Organization had improved the town’s rating. Staff increases, equipment and training upgrades, and Public Works Department work on water lines and fire hydrants all contributed to the rating, he said.

The new rating takes effect on January 1, according to a letter from the ISO. Not all insurance companies use ISO ratings to set rates, so Carroll said residents should check with their carriers to see if they are eligible for a reduction in their insurance costs.

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