Steve Hansen: Much to gain as a Work Ready Community

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By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

Quay County doesn’t find itself in the forefront on too many new ideas, but it is one of only two New Mexico counties that has decided to become a Work Ready Community.

ACT, the non-profit company known mainly for its namesake college readiness test, is succeeding in widening recognition for Work Ready Community status, ACT’s invention.

It looks like a good idea, especially for a rural county like Quay that has been on hard times and now seems to be awakening to its own potential.

The county officially kicked off its public campaign to achieve Work Ready Community status Friday.

The county has already tested sufficient numbers of high school and college students, and unemployed workers with ACT’s Work Keys exam to qualify as a “participating” county, but it is not known whether the county qualifies as a “certified” county. The Work Keys exam tests workplace skills in math, reading and locating information on charts and graphs.

Those who score well enough receive National Career Readiness Certificates that are recognized by employers nationwide.

“Participating” means the county has signed on, but to be “certified,” certain numbers of test-takers must receive certain minimum scores.

Current employers, including John Mihm, owner of Tucumcari’s Buena Vista Labs, have been pleasantly surprised at how well their employees have performed.

Deedee Arnzen, who has administered Work Keys tests to Quay County students and veterans for the state Department of Workforce Solutions, is also pleased with the scores she has recorded.

If Quay County qualifies as a “certified” community, no one will be happier than Pat Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari/Quay County Economic Development Corporation.

Vanderpool’s job is to attract outside employers and encourage expansion of existing businesses and industries in the area.

The first thing most businesses look for in potential locations is a qualified work force.

If Quay County becomes a certified Work Ready Community, that could be a deal-closer when combined with factors such as location, cost-of-living and ready access to major transportation routes.

Only one other New Mexico county, San Juan, is participating, and Quay County is in the lead.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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