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Creating jobs in southern New Mexico

Earlier this month, I hosted a Town Hall at the Las Cruces Convention Center with Senator Tom Udall. It was encouraging to see hundreds of people engage in our democracy and ask important questions about the direction of our state and nation. I am also grateful for the calls and letters I receive from New Mexicans every day in my offices about a range of issues and concerns.

I am hard at work finding ways to tackle these issues and seize concrete opportunities to create more jobs and grow New Mexico's economy. While I was in Las Cruces, I convened a meeting with Mayor Miyagishima, local clean energy businesses, and representatives of Doña Ana Community College, New Mexico State University, and Las Cruces Public Schools to discuss how local schools can work with the city’s growing solar and energy efficiency businesses to prepare students for installation, maintenance, and green construction jobs that will continue to grow in the years to come.

The significant growth of solar energy in cities like Las Cruces has been a real bright spot. The solar industry in our state is growing 179 times faster than the rest of New Mexico’s economy. Our state added over 1,000 new solar jobs last year alone. I was proud to secure multi-year extensions of clean energy tax credits that have spurred major growth in the clean energy industry across New Mexico. I also introduced legislation to make sure our high schools, community colleges and universities can work closely with industry and our national labs to train and retrain New Mexicans for good-paying clean energy jobs.

While I was in southern New Mexico, I also met with the Border Industrial Association and business leaders in the Santa Teresa industrial corridor to discuss the importance

of cross-border trade for the economy. Key developments like the Union Pacific Railroad’s Intermodal Terminal and the expansion of the commercial hours of operation and infrastructure improvements at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry have led to major job growth and made southern New Mexico an increasingly attractive location for export-driven companies.

As the ranking member of the Joint Economic Committee, I’m studying how additional resources, including port of entry staffing, could address border delays and accommodate increased economic activity. A new report by the committee found that adding 1,000 Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry across the country would increase economic activity in the United States by $2 billion and lead to the creation of an estimated 33,148 American jobs per year. This is essential for ensuring New Mexico ports of entry—which are processing the secondfastest- growing goods volume in the country— are able to operate at full capacity.

The economic challenges our state faces are significant, but there are pragmatic solutions and forward-looking investments we should be making in our people and our communities. I won’t stop fighting until every New Mexican who is willing to work hard to support their family and their community can find a good job.