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NMSU fosters economic development through strategic plan, collaboration

  • By Adriana M. Chávez
  • 575-646-1957
  • adchavez@nmsu.edu
  • Aug 03, 2021
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Since New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu joined NMSU in 2018, he has made economic development one of the cornerstones of his vision for advancing the university.

With NMSU’s Arrowhead Center continually expanding its programs across New Mexico and the Borderplex, and the recent naming of a vice president of economic development, Arvizu is seeing a portion of his vision come to fruition.

“Economic development is incredibly important for our state,” Arvizu said. “It’s our land-grant mission to provide education, research and outreach programs to the communities we serve. When we are able to combine all three of those areas, we can unleash the full potential of our university and create enormous economic development opportunities for our entire region.”

As the state’s land-grant university, NMSU has a mission of providing education, research and outreach services to the region. For many years, those outreach efforts have included economic development activities through Arrowhead Center, which focuses on student entrepreneurship; business creation and growth; intellectual property and tech commercialization; and regional economic development collaboratives.

“Arrowhead’s mission is to contribute to economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, creating economic opportunities and enhancing the mission of the university,” said Kathy Hansen, director and CEO of Arrowhead Center.

However, that same mission extends beyond Arrowhead to several campus colleges and departments. In June, the NMSU College of Business launched the Center for Supply Chain Entrepreneurship, which aims to create an ecosystem to connect students and faculty to businesses and drive supply chain-focused entrepreneurial activity in New Mexico. The center will function as a marketplace for stakeholders and a clearinghouse for business-related problems and solutions.

The NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is also at the forefront of economic activity with projects such as the Center of Excellence in Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems. This food, energy and water nexus unites faculty from NMSU’s Engineering, Business, ACES and Arts and Sciences colleges to collaborate on research that facilitates and develops sustainable food and value-added agricultural business. One area of focus within the nexus is production, distribution and labor, and another focus includes identifying specific problems in manufacturing.

NMSU also recently announced a partnership between the colleges of Engineering and ACES and Doña Ana Community College to lead a new collaborative United State Department of Agriculture program, Training of Next Generation Workforce for Smart Food Science and Agricultural Technology in the Digital Era. The program will not only aim to improve food security through the use of innovative smart farming skills, but will partner with economic development organizations, state workforce development agencies and agricultural industries to develop workforce training.

Recently, Arvizu named Lenny Martinez, his former chief of staff, as vice president of economic development, in keeping with Arvizu’s vision of building a strong economic development strategy that will cover the state and region.

Economic development is one of the main goals of NMSU’s LEADS 2025 Strategic Plan. Arvizu said Martinez will take on a crosscut of all strategic initiatives and develop the university’s economic development strategy as a system.

In his role as chief of staff, Martinez had already taken on a number of economic development initiatives. However, in his new role as vice president of economic development, Martinez said he will emphasize collaboration not only with New Mexico entities, but with partners in north Texas and Mexico as well. As vice president of economic development, Martinez oversees NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, which offers its services throughout New Mexico, the Borderplex region, and beyond in Mexico.

“I don’t think we have a shortage of ideas; we have a shortage of connecting the right people at the right time,” Martinez said. “We have tremendous assets here at NMSU that can help border economic development, as well as explore resources in north and west Texas, New Mexico and Juárez.”

Martinez fills a position previously held by the late Kevin Boberg until 2018.