Businesses focused on retail, accommodations, tourism and entertainment are important to the viability of rural communities and regions and make up over 40% of the jobs in many rural New Mexico counties. These industries provide needed goods, services and amenities to local residents and visitors while also enhancing quality of life and support the growing tourism industry in the state. They are a major source of jobs and tax revenue in rural communities, and often provide the first work experience for residents who move up the career path within the hospitality sector or transition horizontally to other sectors.
Despite the rapid growth of the tourism industry in New Mexico in recent years, economic development planning and training for these sectors is often neglected or underemphasized. As a result, small and large businesses alike face the challenges of a workforce unskilled in basic hospitality and customer service skills, high worker turnover rates, and a dwindling pool of mid/upper management workers.
aThe CREATE BRIDGES initiative was launched to develop and test a process to fill this void, particularly in rural areas. Building on the Stronger Economies Together (SET) initiative, CREATE BRIDGES is designed to:
For more information, contact Eva Artschwager or Kristine Olsen.
News coverage of the project:
Southern Rural Development Center Secures Walmart Grant to Expand CREATE BRIDGES Initiative
YouTube video CREATE BRIDGES at the University of Arkansas.