Commission hears remote work pitch
A local group proposes setting up shop for the program, Solowork, in old Alco building.
December 20, 2017
A computer with an internet connection and a cell phone are the only hardware devices many jobs require these days.
That means that many residents of rural communities, like those in Quay County, could work for employers located all over the planet without leaving the county.
That’s the idea behind Solowork, an idea that the New Mexico Economic Development Department, through its Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP), would like to develop, especially in rural areas.
Pat Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation, presented this idea Thursday before the Tucumcari City Commission, and introduced a proposal for setting up as many as 30 work stations, possibly in the old ALCO building in Tucumcari.
These work stations would allow Quay County residents to work for far-flung employers, with access to high-speed internet and office essentials like printers and FAX machines.
Vanderpool said there is even a company called Digitalworks that is interested in training remote workers.
For every worker trained, Vanderpool said, JTIP would reimburse the city $3,500.
Solowork programs are operating in Grants and Las Vegas, Vanderpool said, and the state is looking for a third.
Vanderpool said he has been invited to submit a proposal for grant funding from JTIP that could result in a Solowork center in Tucumcari.
“To me this is very exciting,” City Manager Jared Langenegger said. “It’s a good way to create economic-base jobs in the city.”
Economic base jobs are those that provide products and services for markets beyond county borders.
“This is a way to put people to work without infrastructure,” Langenegger said. Adding that work-at-home employment “is one of the fastest growing areas for economic-base jobs.”
District 1 Commissioner Ralph Moya expressed a concern the workstations would use only 10,000 square feet of the 40,000-square-foot ALCO building.
Vanderpool said that issue has been addressed in talks with Mesalands Community College, which owns the old ALCO building after former owner Ted Williams donated it to the college.
Vanderpool linked the Solowork idea with efforts to maintain the county’s status as a Work Ready Community through ACT, the testing service.
Trainees for Digital Works, he said, must score at least at a Silver level on the Work Keys assessments that ACT publishes to measure workplace-related knowledge. WorkKeys ratings range from bronze, the lowest level that qualifies for ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate, to platinum, which indicates qualification for top professional careers, according to WorkKeys information on ACT’s website, ACT.com.
WorkKeys assessments are free to New Mexico residents. Persons who want to take the series of Work Keys assessments may contact the Tucumcari City Library to make arrangements.
The Solowork discussion Thursday did not result in a commission decision.