Santa Fe’s Prosperous Future - October 17, 2011

"Build upon community improvements to create jobs"

It’s time for Mayor Coss’ annual State of the City address. This year, he will present his vision for the city’s prosperous future. It will be held Wednesday, October 19 at 6:00 p.m. at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

What do creative cities need to prosper? The commonly agreed upon ingredients are talent, tolerance of diversity, technology (Richard Florida) and a supportive infrastructure that can provide education and the means of production to support the workforce.

Add arts and culture, abundant recreational opportunities, and the cleanest air in America and you have the kind of community that attracts and retains young people and entrepreneurs who can choose where to live and locate their businesses.

Santa Fe has made enormous investments in its public infrastructure in the past decade. Mayor Coss and the city councilors have provided the leadership to guide the completion of the gold LEED certified civic center, the Southside Library, Buckman Direct Diversion Project, and additional investments in the Railyard.

They completed extensive biking and walking trail improvements, ecosystem improvements along the Santa Fe River and purchased the land and buildings to house Santa Fe University of Art and Design. They’ve invested in improvements to the Santa Fe Airport and more affordable housing.

I’ll add another accomplishment to the list that the city doesn’t give itself enough credit for: completion of the Advanced Technology Center at the Santa Fe Community College. That project began with the city joining into a partnership with SFCC, the county, the Santa Fe Business Incubator, McCune Foundation and Local Energy to envision and begin planning for a state-of-the-art training facility to teach green building and sustainability classes for careers in those industries.

Mayor Coss will present his vision of how the community can invest in a new portfolio of projects that will enhance previous community improvement and create construction jobs now and future jobs in education, arts and culture, renewable energy and small businesses.

He will discuss the $50 million of new investment the city could make through two bond issues to improve roads, build and expand parks and trails, build a new fire station, make additional improvements to the airport and in drainage around the city and in renewable energy equipment to allow the city to save energy costs.

Specific investment that will help the creative industries in Santa Fe expand are high speed internet broadband improvements in areas clustered around existing economic development areas in the Railyard, on St. Michael’s Drive near Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and along Airport Road near the Santa Fe Business Incubator. Mayor Coss will also propose buying the abandoned St. Catherine Indian School and turning it into the campus for the New Mexico School for the Arts.

These community investments could help Santa Fe take advantage of the expected higher than average growth in arts and culture jobs in the next seven years. They will also build on the long-range planning work the city has undertaken to make changes to St. Michael’s Drive in order to build a creative and cultural corridor in the middle of the city.