By Justin Bannister
NMSU’s Arrowhead Center – Economic Development for All of New Mexico
Need the economic base study for one of New Mexico’s 33 counties? New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center already has it.
Want to know the economic impact of Spaceport America in Southern New Mexico, the potash industry in Southeastern New Mexico or the uranium industry in Northern New Mexico? The Arrowhead Center has those, too. In fact, the Arrowhead Center prides itself on helping with economic development opportunities while promoting student engagement in every corner of New Mexico.
The Arrowhead Center promotes economic and business development through a wide range of services, including entrepreneurship development, technology-based business incubation, policy analysis, assistance with intellectual property, and by managing NMSU’s business and research park. Since its inception in 2004, it has completed more than 200 business research projects involving more than 300 graduate and undergraduate students.
The Arrowhead Center’s Office of Policy Analysis provides accurate and timely economic and public policy research on current trends in New Mexico and looks at national and regional policy issues with direct implications for the state.
The research informs policy makers as well as the public on critical issues to promote effective public policy decisions. The economic studies span a wide variety of topics, including tax policy, health care policy, projected demographics, employment statistics, industry data and labor force statistics.
“We do a lot of analysis for different parts of the state. We don’t just focus on Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico,” said Garrey Carruthers, dean of NMSU’s College of Business and vice president for economic development. “The timeliness and the objectivity of the analysis are important, even if people aren’t always happy with the results we find.”
The policy analysis group also has a series of economic base studies available on its website. Of the studies, 33 describe the economic base of New Mexico’s counties. There are also separate reports for the Albuquerque metro area and the state of New Mexico.
“This is one of the most fundamental aspects we address,” Carruthers said. “Particularly the rural counties in New Mexico don’t have the resources to compile this information. These figures are important for grant writers in helping them put together their proposals.”
The yearly reports, like most projects at the Arrowhead Center, are prepared by NMSU graduate students under the direction of professional staff. This allows students to gain real-world experience while still attending classes, which makes them more desirable to potential employers once they graduate.
“Our students are receiving directed learning experience, which enhances their education,” said Arrowhead CEO Kevin Boberg. “They are crafting solutions for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.”
For current and potential small business owners around the state, the Arrowhead Center provides a resource for obtaining the information and training necessary to be successful – at the Entrepreneurship Institute.
“This supports our statewide economic development mission,” said Sara Pirayesh Sanders, entrepreneurship director at the Arrowhead Center. “By helping small business owners across New Mexico, it ensures that we are really helping everyone in the state.”
The program focuses on three areas, including fostering emerging entrepreneurs, maintaining an entrepreneurship laboratory with the resources necessary for success and establishing the New Mexico Entrepreneurs Alliance, an entrepreneurship network within the state available at www.nme-alliance.com.
“We want to entice entrepreneurs to pursue innovative business opportunities that will keep the state’s economy diversified and on the cutting edge,” Pirayesh Sanders said.
The institute is dedicated to engaging youth in entrepreneurship activities, expanding college-level entrepreneurship training and creating a certification in entrepreneurship for professionals.
The entrepreneurship laboratory includes tools for entrepreneurs, namely books, manuals and online resources. Special business simulation software is also available to help business managers make decisions and see the likely outcome of those decisions before trying them in the real world. Laboratory resources are also available to NMSU students, faculty, staff and the general public.
“So often, people don’t even know where to begin when it comes to starting a small business. This network helps those people find their way,” Pirayesh Sanders said. “We want the culture of the institute to be about New Mexicans helping New Mexicans, so we can create a vibrant culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
One of the Arrowhead Center’s successful clients is artist Virginia Maria Romero. She approached Arrowhead for help with a marketing plan and business strategy for Arte de Romero, a company she and a partner created to market ceramic tiles with images reproduced from Romero’s original artwork for gifts and murals.
NMSU business studied all aspects of Arte de Romero, including policies and procedures, legal issues, sales, income, cost reduction and marketing before drafting a business plan. Since then, her tiles have been used as gifts for Arrowhead and College of Business visitors from around the globe and given to speakers and dignitaries who attended the annual Domenici Public Policy Conference.
As part of the Arrowhead Center’s outreach efforts, it organizes a yearly Innoventure competition, which encourages teams of students from high schools and middle schools around New Mexico to use science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business skills to solve problems.
Each year has a new theme where students present projects and are judged on various components, including general idea, feasibility and presentation. Previous themes have included alternative energy sources and toys for use in outer space.
Matt Roloff, star of the TV show “Little People, Big World” on TLC spoke at the 2009 competition. That year’s theme was adaptive products and the students had a chance to meet Roloff and show him their ideas for products to help little people in adapting to a “big world.” Each student team presented its project and was judged on various components, including general idea, feasibility and presentation.
Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur who has created five businesses since college and gained fame when he competed in the CBS reality show “Amazing Race,” spoke in 2010. Mycoskie was also featured in an AT&T commercial as the “chief shoe giver” of TOMS Shoes, a company that provides shoes to children in need.
The 2010 theme had students make self-contained kits for children their age or younger who live in “extreme circumstances,” broadly defined as anything ranging from war, to homelessness, to natural disaster areas to foster care.