• Gregory Z. Smith

Economic Diversity

There is something of an equation that has to be built around the things we want. We say we want to see more of our young people able to stay in this city they love. We say we want there to be more assets here for all of us to enjoy, especially (but not exclusively) our young people. We say we want there to be more funding for social services and other programs that we know are needed here. That is all on one side of the equation.

On the other side of the equation are those things that make it possible to do more here. In order to reduce unemployment and underemployment for those of us at all ages who look for work and careers (and thus, increase purchasing capacity and the ability to ensure we have our needs addressed), we need to be cultivating the jobs of the future; not relying only on the jobs of the past to somehow survive and save us. In order to ensure that we continue to have local taxes to pay for services and assets that make it more comfortable, healthy, and rewarding to live here, we have to encourage the endeavors that make products and provide services people need or want. In order to be a hometown and a destination with unique and great "quality of place," "quality of life," and "quality of experience," we have to seriously look at what other communities have done or are doing to be true to themselves while also being appreciated for themselves.

We know more jobs are being automated. We know more jobs are being digitized. We know more jobs are going to robots and computer programs. We know this means fewer traditional jobs for humans, and that can mean quite a few problematic things.

Thus, we look for the careers that will carry us into the future and will most likely continue to require humans. The six that top my list for Las Cruces, not because they are my favorites or because I somehow profit, but because they each seem to be particularly dependent on the human element, are these:

* Education and Communication

* Medicine and Health Care

* The Arts

* Research and Development

* Tourism

* Law and Government

We already have a strong basis in all of these here, but as we focus our planning for our future, we need to be very clear about what each of them means to that future. This is not to say that agriculture, construction, mechanical work, accounting, or food service are going away any time soon; however, we will be watching opportunities lessen for humans in these fields in coming decades.

So, when you hear me emphasizing the "creative economy" or celebrating the construction of another hospital, please understand that I am looking to where we have the greatest opportunities to maintain employment options, increase the value of living here, and take pride in Las Cruces being wonderfully... Las Cruces!

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