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Did you see the recent news that the Farmington MSA (San Juan County) was at the top of a nationwide list? You may have heard that USA Today just ranked the Farmington MSA as the “Fastest Shrinking City” for the second year in a row. Anyone who has ever participated in a survey knows that numbers can be interpreted to tell a specific story.

The Farmington MSA’s population numbers have been shrinking over the past few years; every chart you can find will support that. What isn’t reflected in the article is the growth in industry diversification that has occurred in the area. Yes, we in San Juan County are still heavily dependent upon the oil and gas companies for our base employment, and that industry is definitely hurting now due to low oil and gas prices globally, in addition to the threat of more regulation; but the effort to diversify, has been, to an extent successful and efforts are in process as we speak, to assist some of the businesses that were previously service providers to the oil and gas industry in realigning their services and products to meet the needs of other industries and manufacturing opportunities.

Speaking of the oil and gas industry being in a current slump and the threat of additional regulation that could cause the closure of 7,000 or so wells in the northwest region of New Mexico, here is your opportunity to assist efforts to retain the 9,000 jobs that will be lost if those 7000 wells close. Go to www.RealPeopleRealJobsNM.com and read through the community letter that details what kinds of changes and devastation our community can look forward to if the new Bureau of Land Management regulations are implemented. Then sign the petition in support of keeping 9,000 of those community and family sustaining jobs that are directly linked to the oil and gas industry in San Juan County.

As we continue our efforts to diversify the economy and industry presence in the Farmington MSA, we need to look at what is already here. What businesses are already here that want to grow and expand but find themselves unable to do so because there is some sort of barrier? Maybe there aren’t the resources, time, specific knowledge or correct leverage to change the situation and allow the addition of more employees. There are roughly 4,000 businesses operating every day in the Farmington MSA.

These jobs would include everything from entry level to the most sought after professions and everything in between. Imagine if we could remove the barriers and each of those businesses could hire one more person. We would create 4,000 new jobs that previously didn’t exist. We would help in creating local personal wealth as a large number of those registered businesses are locally, independently owned by people who live right here in San Juan County.

As a community, what are we going to do about a down turn in the local population and economy?

Step one: Start by signing the Real People Real Jobs petition;

Step two: Share with Four Corners Economic Development what your barriers are to adding one more job in your business; or

Bring your idea about how to add one more job and discuss it with us or one of the Business Services professionals at the Quality Center for Business as San Juan College.

Step three: Participate on one of the Four Corners Economic Development Committees or Teams that will focus on solving the problems and eliminating the barriers that you face when trying to add one more job.

Get involved.  Let us hear from you; we’re in this together.  My telephone number is 566-3720 and my email is info@4CornersED.com.

Sally Burbridge is the Four Corners Economic Development interim CEO.

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Read or Share this story: https://www.daily-times.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/04/16/4ced-there-progress-farmington-msa/83100472/