Are Things Improving?
By Tommy Haws
It has been a long, slow national recovery, but there are some signs to point to that we might be pulling out of this “recession.” I put that in quotes because technically the recession has been over for some time by its academic definition, but we all know that it has been a very slow process to feel like we have emerged on the other side.
Uncertainty is a killer for an economy and we have had plenty of that. Every time we have wanted to feel good about where things are going, there is a new problem to confront domestically or internationally. This uncertainty can make any recovery start and stop. There is not a lot that can be done about this, but we hope that economically, anyway, we have some stability to work from.
There has been growth in most sectors, but the most promising is the rebound of the real estate market. Because there were so many things that affected the real estate recovery, including working through bad lending practices, excess lot and speculation home inventory and other factors, this sector was one of the reasons for the sluggish recovery. Now that inventories have stabilized, lending has been stabilized, etc., the opportunity for growth is exciting. Mortgages still have a lot of hoops to jump through, but that is because they have shored up lending practices in order to avoid the crises in the future like what happened in 2008 as a result of using criteria that were not reliable.
Energy is a great sector again, as technology has allowed the opening of new or renewed fields. The U.S. is becoming more and more energy independent, which is a good thing for everyone. This will allow us to not rely upon resources from unreliable areas of the world, employ our own people and keep production and transportation costs lower.
This is small sampling, but important to see that there is a trend towards stability again in our economy.
The Gallup area does have its fair share of both good and bad news, but overall the future seems very bright. As much as we like to dwell on the negative such as the issues related to our local hospital or other concerns, there is a lot to be happy about.
Highway 491 is going to be completely finished with all four lanes to Shiprock now. That will help safety and our economy. The Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation (GGEDC), along with other great partners such as the City, the County and the State lobbied hard to get this funding – and the State Highway commission found the funding and the opportunity to make this happen. It has been exciting to see all things come together for the funding and now the groundbreaking of this project. Many thanks to all involved there.
We see the Navajo Gallup Pipeline in the works now with great potential to be a major game changer – making Gallup the only community along I-40 for hundreds of miles with a sustainable water source.
The biggest move in the last few decades though has been the sale by Gamerco and Associates to Gallup Land Partners of over 26,000 acres of land in and around Gallup. This is huge because they are actively pursuing real job-creating development strategies that will transform our local economy by growing base economic jobs. They have laid much of the groundwork already and there is every reason to believe that this is going to be helpful in the long run for the entire area.
Do we have challenges and shortcomings? Of course. However, real growth and forward thinking need to be our new mindset here. To dwell on what is wrong only creates many more problems. There are so many great things happening; let’s be more positive. We have so many good things to work with and now we need to make sure that there is nothing to hold us back.
With all of our momentum now, I think this is a great time to be in Gallup and be able to move forward. I believe that there are more good days ahead than behind us, as we emerge stronger from this downturn. This is, of course, not to mean that I am a Pollyanna with the inability to see challenges and difficulties. I am, however, an optimist at heart and see good things ahead. So the answer to the question for me is – YES. Things are certainly improving and we have reason to be positive.