Opinion: Lots of celebrating going on at this late date
Last updated 9/3/2022 at 12:36pm
The abandoned seed barn off West Amador Avenue in Las Cruces has stood for decades as a giant monument to lost industry. The city has had big plans in the past to breathe new life into the old structure. In 2015 it was going to be part of Gin Plaza, described in the ill-fated Amador Pròximo project as an “homage to the neighborhood’s agricultural and industrial history and an invitation to millennials who crave an eclectic vibe in which to explore, live, work and recreate.”
Amador Pròximo was just another in a long line of grand plans by the city that never went anywhere. Don’t get me started on the federal money wasted on plans to revive El Paseo in 2012.
And so, it was big news last week when a film production company from California bought the old seed barn, with plans to convert it into a film production studio. 828 Productions said it will spend $75 million over the next six years on construction, resulting in at least 100 jobs. They have also purchased office space in downtown Las Cruces.
Southern New Mexico has been late to the party in taking advantage of film credits that are paid for by tax collections throughout the state but in the past have only benefited Santa Fe and Albuquerque. This will help us get our share.
The state has pledged $3 million in Local Economic Development Act funds to support the new studio, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was in town to help celebrate the good news. It was just one of many such celebratory trips the governor has made this month.
On Aug. 19, she went to Farmington to celebrate a $40 million state investment in the Pinon Hills Boulevard Extension road project.
On Aug. 18, she went to Gallup to celebrate an $8 million state investment to drill more water wells for delivery to the Navajo nation. On that same trip, she also celebrated a $4.3 million state investment for bridge repair in McKinley County.
She was celebrating in Las Cruces on Aug. 17. On Aug. 10, she was in Santa Fe to celebrate a $150,000 LEDA investment in Parting Stone, a company that has come up with a process to convert the cremated remains of your loved ones into a smooth stone.
On Aug. 8, she went to Albuquerque to celebrate $15 million in state funding for nurse training as part of the groundbreaking for the new College of Nursing and Public Health Excellence Building.
And, on Aug. 2, she went to Bernalillo to celebrate a $5.7 million state investment for a new Sandoval County Public Safety Complex.
So much celebrating, and so little time before reelection in November. No wonder her Republican opponent, Mark Ronchetti, wants to cut us each an $800 check every year.
There are obvious advantages to being the incumbent, and one of them is the opportunity to dole out money and take credit for new projects. And, with a $1 billion increase in the state budget passed by the Legislature earlier this year, coming on top of money from both the federal stimulus and infrastructure bills, there’s plenty to spread around.
Ronchetti’s plan seems a little like blackmail. We only get the money if the gas and oil companies are thriving. Any attempts to curtail drilling in response to climate change would mean less free money from the state.
Walter Rubel is the former opinion page editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News. He lives in Las Cruces, and can be reached at: