Trip #1: Deming and Columbus

19 Mar, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE - 5:15 wake-up call on the first work day after the legislative session – brutal! But weeks ago I committed to attending the LPOE International Loading/Unloading Zone Ribbon Cutting Celebration. What is that? Right? We’ll get to that…

On the way from Albuquerque to Columbus, N.M. I passed by the usual landmarks on I-25. That drive South is nothing new – especially since Bosque Del Apache is a regular November stop to see the Sandhill Cranes at sunrise. But then I went farther to Hatch, and turning off the interstate– this is new territory. Wide open space, a solar farm, wind turbines. I even witnessed two singular turbine blades traveling down the highway destined on their way to being installed. …

DEMING - Passed through Deming, there is an adorable coffee shop on Main Street that I will go back to on another trip. Watch out Senator Smith!

COLUMBUS - I arrived at the border – wow. A beautiful $80 million border crossing + facility that feels more like a welcome center than a scary border control. As a New Mexican, it makes me proud.

About 30 folding chairs were set in front of the cement buildings surrounded by xeriscape. A podium placed in front – was this it? Yes. On a dusty corner about a 100 yards from the Dollar Store was to be my first official press conference without the support of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her amazing staff…was I in the right place? Where was everyone? The throngs of press, the cameras? Not here.

I had done my homework the night before, this event was for the opening of a bus stop for students who are U.S. Citizens and live in Mexico but travel to Columbus and Deming for class. Small potatoes, I guess, compared to the legislative session. So why send your Economic Development Cabinet Secretary?

Well, because global trade accounts for roughly 15,000 jobs in New Mexico. And this bus stop was built to celebrate our students and to provide them a safe place to enter and leave the United States on their way to receiving a bilingual education. An education that will allow them to communicate in multiple languages and understand different cultures – and that type of experience and knowledge will always be in demand in the workforce and be a backbone in our diversified economy. That is why I am here …

The press conference represented a lot of effort and passion from the New Mexico Border Authority, Deming Public Schools, the Congressional delegation and the Village of Columbus, which made this safe spot possible. And even though there was little fanfare outside of those directly affected, it was perfect -- understated but thoughtful – very New Mexico. The crowd was composed of teachers, Mayors, community leaders, and the incredible Rep. Candie Sweester of Deming, who has a heart of gold and is passionate about her district. They all made me feel like I belonged. They made me feel like I was part of something bigger in this little part of our state. They made me care about what is going on in Columbus, N.M... I hope all my future trips are like this – full of people who care deeply about making our state better, keeping our kids safe and educating them for the future.

Alicia J. Keyes

Cabinet Secretary, Economic Development

State of New Mexico

Categories: Ribbon Cutting