A New Mexico Innovation Triangle, LLC slide of a presentation to lawmakers showing the sites of two proposed innovative villages in Los Alamos.

A slide from the NMIT presentation showing what is believed to be the area between Trinity Drive and Central Avenue in Los Alamos.

A map showing the proposed Innovation Triangle from the NMIT presentation.

BY MAYOR O’NEILL
[email protected]

John Rizzo, Founder and CEO of New Mexico Innovation Triangle, LLC, was on the agenda Thursday of the Legislative Assembly’s Income Stabilization and Fiscal Policy Committee, where he discussed the company’s goals for “Innovative villages” in New Mexico, including two in Los Alamos.

According to the slides presented by Rizzo, the Los Alamos Innovation Village East would include the Hilltop House Hotel and the Mari Mac Mall, but appear to include many more properties that are not currently owned by NMIT. Currently, the NMIT appears to only own the former Hilltop House property. A contract between NMIT and Kroger for the Mari Mac Village shopping center area was allowed to expire and there was no mention of a new agreement.

The location of Los Alamos Innovation Village West, according to the slides, appears to be in the area of ​​Central Park Square behind the current Pet Pangea store, on property owned by Philip Kunsberg according to Los Alamos County records. The Los Alamos Reporter tried to reach Kunsberg for comment on Wednesday afternoon without success.

As the NMIT promotes Innovation Villages to state lawmakers, it appealed for a Los Alamos County Council resolution declaring the old Hilltop House, where the NMIT is trying to create “a threat. for the comfort, health, peace and safety of the public ”and ordering the removal of the building and associated ruins, rubbish, wreckage and debris from the county. NMIT’s attorney told the Los Alamos Reporter he would not give the reason for the appeal until the Dec. 3 hearing before the Council.

On October 18, the Los Alamos fire commissioner declared that the building is “a clear and hostile threat to human life, safety and health”. NMIT was ordered to immediately fence the building, but on November 16, county officials said the proposed location for the fence had been staked and they were awaiting a permit application. Rizzo told the reporter he expects the fencing issue to be resolved now if the Thanksgiving holiday isn’t in the way. During this time, only the yellow warning tape was placed.

If the County Council denies the NMIT appeal on the former Hilltop House property, the County may continue under the authority given to it under state law to look after the building and waste. The county maintains that the building is “ruined, damaged and dilapidated due to a lack of regular maintenance and damage which makes the structure now unsafe and a threat to the health, safety and well-being of the public ”. The resolution says no timely action was taken by the NMIT to remove the building, its ruins, garbage, wreckage and debris from the county. He would require that the parcel be left in a “clean, level and safe condition suitable for occupation or subsequent construction with all excavations completed” by March 30, 2022.

If the NMIT does not begin removing the building and debris as outlined in the resolution, the county could obtain a district court order and proceed with the removal of the building and debris at NMIT’s expense. The reasonable cost of the removal incurred by the county would constitute a lien on the property which could be seized under state law.

Rizzo’s 49-page presentation to lawmakers echoed his comments to The Reporter in August when he said the old Hilltop House location plans were 90% complete and the NMIT was working on the architectural plans.

Rizzo told the committee that the NMIT wanted to build what it now calls the New Mexico Innovation Triangle, which he says is a triangle that connects Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos to three national labs, ” over a million people in the work shed, a huge amount of population that allows us to build a new economy ”.

“The strategy is to build these three innovation villages which are very dense work / play environments to essentially create new capital formation initiatives to bring new start-ups into the state and to encourage people from there. ‘State who are bright and have a lot of energy. start their own businesses that are great job creators, transform and help the education system, create more graduates who could work in these businesses, and most importantly, prevent the young people who grew up in New Mexico and have been here since centuries of feeling like they have to leave the state because they can’t get a good job or can’t find a place to live, ”said Rizzo.

He said the issue to be addressed is quite serious, that the census has shown older people are coming to New Mexico and younger people are leaving.

“This creates tremendous pressure on the growth of the business and the state, and over time, if we don’t do anything to adjust this, the population will start to decline. As we all know, shrinking populations don’t create a lot of economic opportunity – it creates a whole host of problems, ”said Rizzo. “The challenges in New Mexico are not enough job growth, not enough investment capital, the education system is not producing graduates who participate in the new economies. This in my opinion creates huge opportunities for us to grow and accelerate the growth of our state.

He said the pandemic created huge opportunities for the state, as it has now been shown that employees in innovative positions can actually work from anywhere and don’t have to work where it is. their business. He noted that “there are hundreds of thousands of remote workers who are now enabled by broadband technology and can work from anywhere.”

“Technology and innovation is a tremendous engine of growth, and to the extent that we don’t have such a mechanism for growth in New Mexico, despite the enormous strengths that we have here with the national labs, with the streaming business and Netflix, our resilient work force and our culture, we will see ourselves suffering because of this lack of investment, ”said Rizzo. “The problem we’re trying to solve is to create 25,000 incremental innovation jobs in New Mexico over the next 10 years. These 25,000 jobs will help diversify the economy, help create another economic engine besides oil, gas and tourism, and ultimately create an economic development machine that will provide a better quality of life for all. New Mexicans, whether or not they live in Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Las Cruces but all over the state.

He said that a tech job creates 6-7 more jobs around them, so even if someone isn’t working in a high paying tech job, it does create jobs for a group of people around them and that 100,000 additional jobs will support the 25,000 jobs.

Rizzo’s snapshot to lawmakers says he believes the NMIT initiative will add $ 15 billion to New Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) and improve the lives of tens of thousands of New Mexicans. His presentation also indicated that Santa Fe would be an ideal location for an Innovation Village that would be mixed-use and within walking distance. He said it would provide “modern, cool, hip and post-COVID living spaces” as well as affordable housing, “restaurants, entertainment, groceries, exercise, views and light.”

While the NMIT has no specific requests to the Legislature at this time, it wants to encourage thinking now for the 2023 session. It listed the following:

  • Surgically targeted tax reform measures for specific sectors with tight safeguards
  • Investments in higher education by sector
  • Dedicated venture capital funds, by sector
  • Funds to drive expansion if the idea and implementation
  • Support Rail Runner upgrades to build a transit corridor between Mesa del Sol and Santa Fe
  • Encourage a regional approach rather than a silo city approach

Rizzo asked the question, “Is it worth it to forgo $ 4.9 million in capital gains taxes to attract 100 companies that we don’t have in New Mexico to earn $ 50 million in capital gains taxes?” ‘taxes on the income of employees of these companies’.

He noted that policy changes allowing individuals to live and work in New Mexico, but remotely, would include “student debt relief or conversion at a lower rate” and “no capital gain on them. stock options ”. For businesses to set up offices in New Mexico, he added gross revenue tax credits for office leases. He listed the policy changes for companies to invest in education and diversity in New Mexico as GRT credits for the investment program, paid internships and mentorship, as well as the accelerated GRT for training. targeted under-represented groups.

Rizzo also suggested policy changes to encourage the creation of new businesses as follows:

  • Student debt relief or conversion at a lower rate
  • No capital gain on stock options
  • GRT credits for office leases
  • GRT credits for courses, paid internships, mentoring
  • Accelerated GRT credits for training if targeted under-represented groups
  • targeted venture capital funds and
  • Wider application and scope of vocational training incentive programs

A slide of the NMIT presentation to state legislators.

A slide of the NMIT presentation to state legislators.


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