USDA Rural Development-New Mexico, along with the Farm Service Agency held a Jobs Forum yesterday in Silver City -- a community nestled in the Gila Wilderness of Southwestern New Mexico. Silver City is working hard to address its local economic situation. The recent drop in copper prices caused local mines to lay off more than 600 employees in a community of 10,000. Those layoffs and other economic factors caused the County’s unemployment rate to rise by 10 percent in three years.
At the jobs forum, USDA New Mexico Farm Services Director Solomon Ramirez and I heard from community members who had obviously thought long and hard about various ways to recover from their current situation.
Ideas covered a variety of areas including: education, health care and small business. We heard requests for more vocational education, workforce training, housing and childcare. Small business owners discussed the difficulty in finding loans. Non profit organizations talked about the need to allow greater access to federal assistance. The suggestions were tremendously helpful and I found myself with plenty of projects to get working on.
We had several participants submit their thoughts in writing to the President and we also made available an email address where they could leave their ideas electronically: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d like to thank the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments and the Grant County Prospectors for putting together the event with short notice. State Representatives Diane Hamilton and Rudy Martinez were in attendance as was State Senator Howie Morales. The Mayors of Silver City and Bayard attended as well.