Despite the negative effects Las Cruces has experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic the City is recovering economically.
That was the message presented to the Las Cruces City Council at its Work Session on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021 by Francisco Pallares, Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Las Cruces.
Unemployment insurance claims in Las Cruces have dropped from almost 13,000 during the peak of the pandemic in May 2020 to about 6,000 as of early August. Also, unemployment insurance claims in Doña Ana County, compared to claims filed in New Mexico, have remained relatively flat, about 9 percent, from May 2020 to early August.
Pallares indicated to keep an eye out for the labor market in September when unemployment insurance claims expire in New Mexico
Pallares also told City Council that industries such as Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Services, Accommodations and Food Services, Retail Trade, and Healthcare and Social Services have shown the strongest economic recovery in Las Cruces compared to the beginning of the pandemic. New job postings for registered nurses, retail salespersons, heavy tractor-trailer truck drivers, customer sales representatives, and first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers are the top five professions that are hiring.
While prices and the cost of living continue to increase, Las Cruces remains competitive compared to the average U.S. city.
Additionally at Monday’s Work Session, City staff presented an update to the Council on the process to implement the City Strategic Plan. On March 15, 2021, City Council adopted the City's Strategic Plan for 2021 to 2026, which identified and prioritized a set of goals, including many from Elevate Las Cruces.
City staff has begun to realign the adopted plans of Elevate Las Cruces and the City’s Strategic Plan through a set of actions, which will ultimately become part of an organization-wide implementation program. This phased process will continue throughout the rest of the calendar year with the development of benchmarks and key performance indicators, and the realignment of the department strategic plans.
Prior to the Work Session, City Council and members of the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission met for Special Work Session. Representatives of Freese and Nichols, Inc. presented preliminary information to City Council regarding proposed amendments to the City’s development codes.
The project to amend the development codes is in its first phase of a two-year initiative. The second phase of the project is expected to begin in September and will last a year. The third phase is expected to be completed by March 2023.
The first phase included of stakeholder interviews, a virtual open house, and the gathering, review, and analysis of applicable codes and policies. The result for the first phase is a development code diagnostic that outlines structural modifications to the existing code and recommendations for various content changes.
The code diagnostic is meant to guide in the drafting of the land development code during the second phase of the project.