LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The local and national economy were the focal point of a forum at New Mexico State University Tuesday afternoon.
Sponsored by the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and KRWG, experts gave their views on the current economic trends.
"We've gained six tenths of one percent in employment," said NMSU Economics Professor Chris Erickson.
Erickson and his colleagues said nationally jobs are growing at a faster rate than at the state level.
The professor added that's in large part to the region relying heavily on federal funding.
"One of the reasons we're not growing very much is because the federal budget is stagnant," he said.
White Sands Missile Range was impacted by the sequester forcing employees to take furlough days.
Erickson said the university, the other large employer in the area, is also not growing.
To combat that trend, Erickson said improving education is key in attracting new business.
He said there is also promising growth happening in the southern part of the county with the expansion of the port and the intermodal transportation hub in Santa Teresa.
While the numbers show exports have increased in the state, a new study  found the proposed Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument would greatly impact the economy.
$7.4 million is the projected annual income that would come back into our community as a result of the designation," said Executive Director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce Carrie Hamblen.
Hamblen said the study was commissioned as first step to show lawmakers the benefits the protected land would have.
The study showed the proposal would also bring in 88 jobs to the region and add a boost to tourism.
"People will be staying overnight at our hotels, eating in our restaurants and they will be buying things in our local stores," she said.
Now with the study complete, Hamblen said it would be up to lawmakers to see the benefits and push the proposal forward in Washington.
The forum will also be shown on KRWG-TV Channel 22 at 7 p.m. Aug. 22, 5 p.m. Aug. 24 and 11 a.m. Aug. 25.