New Mexico’s top economic development official is stepping down after more than four years of guiding expanded state investments and incentives aimed at opportunities in outdoor recreation, aerospace ventures, the film industry, venture capital and more.
State Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia Keyes will end her tenure at the agency in mid-July.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the secretary’s departure Thursday in a news release that praised Keyes’ dedication to expanding employment and improving the state’s economic health.
Unemployment rates have fallen sharply across New Mexico in the aftermath of coronavirus lockdowns, though New Mexico’s workforce participation rates still lag far behind the national average.
“My greatest joy has been collaborating with New Mexicans in every corner of the state to create higher-paying jobs and build economic security for future generations,” Keyes said in a statement.
Appointed in January 2019, Keyes oversaw the creation of the state’s outdoor recreation office. She recently helped the Lujan Grisham administration lobby legislators successfully for the creation of a media academy to support training in the local film industry.
The governor on Thursday described progress in job creation at higher wages under the Local Economic Development Act that underwrites infrastructure investments for businesses that expand or relocate in New Mexico, citing support for more than 8,500 over the past four years.
An analysis late last year from the budget and accountability office of the Legislature found that taxpayer-funded incentives aimed at expanding private employment and investments in New Mexico sometimes create fewer high-quality jobs than projected, and money is not consistently clawed back for unfulfilled promises.
Keyes plans to take time time off before pursuing opportunities in the private sector while remaining in New Mexico.