Here we go again.
New Mexico’s “economic development” brain trust has formed “GrowBio,” to “identify and advance actionable strategies to grow biotechnology businesses in New Mexico to benefit the state’s economy by creating new and high-paying jobs to improve the lives of New Mexicans.”
Dr. Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, told the Albuquerque Journal that the state has “already created the foundations for a strong bioscience industry,” and is now “at the stage where the state and private sector must work together on policies and incentives to move a lot more discoveries from lab to market to help biotechnology startups grow and thrive.”
If the state has a “burgeoning biotechnology industry,” as the Journal claimed, that would come as news to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, “the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations.” In a report issued earlier this year, BIO found that between 2012 and 2014, the number of bioscience firms in New Mexico rose by only 0.5 percent. The number of jobs in the industry fell by 6.9 percent — a sharp contrast to the Land of Enchantment’s neighbors:
Source: “The Value of Bioscience Innovation in Growing Jobs and Improving Quality of Life 2016,” Biotechnology Innovation Organization
Biotech would indeed be a good industry to expand in New Mexico. Compensation is generous and the potential for growth is vast. But “more tax credits for out-of-state investors and funds set aside in the state budget” won’t get the job done. Neither will a “bioscience authority that would establish connections between the innovation community and sources of capital to fund bioscience startups” and a “head of bioscience” for the New Mexico Economic Development Department.
Only sweeping, and high-impact, economic-development policy shifts will attract the kinds of businesses and industries that are needed to rescue New Mexico from its dire economic/fiscal condition. The central-planning approach has been tried. It doesn’t work.