Secretary of economic development Jon Barela takes job in private sector

August 29, 2016 GMT

Jon Barela, a longtime supporter of Gov. Susana Martinez and one of her original Cabinet appointments, is resigning from his job as economic development secretary, the governor’s office announced Monday.

Barela has been named chief executive officer of the Borderplex Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes expansion along the southern border, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Barela said the job will help him continue efforts to diversify New Mexico’s economy.

The effort to make the state border with Mexico a center of international trade started with former Gov. Bill Richardson and has been continued by Barela and Martinez developing the Santa Teresa-San Jeronimo border crossing into a 70,000-acre, binational community.

“I’m grateful for the governor’s support and friendship over the past six years, and I am excited to continue building on the progress we’ve made in building up a key corridor for trade between the U.S., Mexico, and the rest of the world,” Barela said in a statement.

Barela has led the effort to expand the state’s “closing fund” to help businesses pay for public structure and was often out front before lawmakers speaking about the need to cut corporate income taxes and make the state more competitive.

Barela, a Republican from Albuquerque, ran for U.S. Congress from the First Congressional District in 2010, losing to Martin Heinrich, who’s now a U.S. senator.