As we emerge from more than a year of uncertainty, I think it is safe to say that we are in a better place than we were last year at this time. That said, we can also look back on the past 18 months and be proud of our efforts to adapt to the unforeseen challenges we were faced with as a result of a global pandemic. It’s been said that it’s not what happens to us, but more importantly “how we deal with” what happens in life. And I think in that regard, we have much to celebrate in the way of accomplishments here at MRCOG.
For starters, hats off to the representatives from our member governments and agencies for adapting to the challenge of not being able to meet in person. In fact, not one time did we lack for a quorum in any of our virtual meetings, and to me, that fact alone speaks volumes about the dedication and commitment of those who represent our four-county region. Likewise, to our staff, who so diligently kept our programs running behind the scenes, often from laptops set up on their own kitchen counters!
One tremendous example of this effort can be seen by looking at the efforts of our New Mexico Workforce Connection one-stop locations, which never missed a beat in assisting both job seekers and businesses through a totally virtual platform. And, thanks to a grant from the Economic Development Administration, our MRCOG Regional Planning Program was able to expand services and provide assistance to small businesses in the region by helping to develop special training courses for those wanting to improve upon their financial practices and grow their business.
On the transportation side of the house, I’m happy to report that the metro area was not adversely affected by financial decreases leveled by the pandemic. In fact, the MPO was able to put additional funds into the transportation system and deliver a slate of projects amounting to nearly seven million dollars in improvements to move people, goods, and ultimately benefit the economy of our region. And when it comes to moving people, not only were we able to literally get things “back on track” after nearly a full year of postponed service on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, but we were able to do it with the addition of Positive Train Control, the $60 million federal safety mandate, that I’m proud to say Rio Metro installed, tested and implemented faster than any other railroad in the US. This just months before the Rail Runner reached a major milestone celebrating 15 years of service!
So, you see… if we’ve learned anything from what we’ve gone through over the course of the past year, we’ve learned that we are perhaps much stronger than we thought we were. And so as you leaf through the pages of this year’s Annual Report, I believe you will see evidence of an organization that not only demonstrated immense fortitude and determination in the face of adversity…but also found ways to provide more opportunities to be inclusive because of it.
I look forward to seeing more of you, hopefully now “in person,” and to continuing to work together as we strive to accomplish greater achievements for central New Mexico and the abundant communities we serve.
Dewey V. CaveExecutive DirectorMid-Region Council of Governments