Battling the "Debbie Downer Effect" in New Mexico

What is the "Debbie Downer Effect?"

How does it hit New Mexico?

Three great business events have just taken place in New Mexico. The SBIR Road Tour, the New Mexico Opportunity Zones Forum and the UNM HSC Clinical & Translational Science Center BioVenture Partnership Event.

The key components of these business events are to educate the community about the numerous opportunities that are available to help small businesses grow through networking, through financing and through working with federal agencies that have resources.

In New Mexico, we continue to see what we call “The Debbie Downer Effect.” Everyone has been working hard to promote the beneficial resources that are available to small businesses such as financing, mentoring, structural information, working with government entities and working with government contractors. Then someone in the room stands up and contradicts the positive movement. The “Debbie Downer” of the room focuses on negative speculations and how “terrible everything is in New Mexico – how the state is ranked 50th on this list and 50th on that list, that there’s no capital available and that there is no talent. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! These “Debbie Downer” professionals should be promoting New Mexico rather than shifting the focus to negative objectives.

Here is a perfect example: at the New Mexico Opportunity Zones Forum, a presenter got up and started preaching about how terrible New Mexico is and even talked about the disparities between the people with wealth and the people without wealth and how that is going to create a fight between the “haves” and the “have nots.” This person focused on all the negativity of the situation before announcing that she had the solution to the problem! Simply invest in her opportunity zone fund and pay 2% management fee plus a 20% carry and magically, the problems would go away.

The presenter then came up to our table and asked, "was that too preachy?" To which we said, "yes." When challenged on the issues, she confidently declared, “There is no capital and no support.” When challenged on her claims about the lack of financing, she then contradicted herself by saying, “I wasn’t talking about Angel, Venture or Private Equity, I was talking about infrastructure, funding and funding for small businesses within opportunity zones, etc. etc.” To which we replied, “then say that. If you are saying there is no capital in New Mexico then say it and back it up. But, if you are challenged, and you say ‘oh no I didn’t mean that’ then focus on what you’re doing and let the people that are playing in the market do what they are doing to promote New Mexico and its economic development.”

At the SBIR Road Tour, a great event promoted by Arrowhead at New Mexico State University, there was incredible amount of positive energy, entrepreneurs were engaged while pitching their ideas to potential funders, there was excellent information and good food. Then, we had a leader from the economic development community stand up and say how horrible it is to do business in New Mexico; why would a company come to NM when it’s the desert, there’s no airport to which we responded that we are actually doing a deal with a business from where you live! The reason why the company came to New Mexico is because there is talent, there is capital – it is a lower cost of doing business in a community of support.

On another note, at the UNM HSC Clinical & Translational Science Center BioVenture Partnership Event, fortunately, they did NOT get the “Debbie Downer” memo! Industry leaders for the event focused on the positive things going on at UNMH. They outlined the progressive successes of their programs and the recent accomplishments of their researchers. Not one person got up and spoke negatively about New Mexico or the lack of resources. The numerous presenters focused on the progress of their technologies in a positive light. Thank you UNMH for not putting out that memo!

So, what is the key take away? In order to move the state forward, we need to celebrate our successes and promote our progress. Look at the gaps that we have, yes, there is capital and there is talent. As a community, we need to focus on positive movement and bring in more of it. Let’s not stand up in front of business people and shit all over New Mexico.

Andrea M. Garcia