Our mission is to promote local control of the management and investment of local resources through democratic decision-making for the common good.
The Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity is the successor to Santa Fe based Banking on New Mexico and Public Bank for Central New Mexico in Albuquerque, formed to study the benefits of – and to advocate for – Public Banking for New Mexico as a tool to keep New Mexico revenue local, safe and working for New Mexicans.
The idea of a public bank in New Mexico was first introduced in 2012 by the Santa Fe grassroots organization WeArePeopleHere! as a tool to decrease the loss of revenue to global banks outside the state and with that revenue, improve the state’s faltering economic health. The group initially researched “if and how” a public bank could address social and economic justice needs in New Mexico. Inspired by the pioneering work of civil rights lawyer/radio host and author, Craig Barnes, a public banking initiative, Banking on New Mexico, (BoNM), was begun.
Angela Merkert, the Executive Director for the new Alliance, was an early participant in Craig’s working group. After moving to Albuquerque in 2014, she joined a faith-based study group researching economic reform tools that focused on Ellen Brown’s pioneering research on public banking in the US and globally. This study led to the formation of the Central New Mexico initiative.
Both groups undertook research and discussions with business, education, community, and political leaders across the state about the concept, which is largely based on the 100 years of profitability and economic stimulation fostered by the Bank of North Dakota, the first public bank in the US.
In 2014, BoNM co-hosted an international public banking symposium in Santa Fe, bringing together County and City leaders with national experts in economics, government finance, US public banking initiatives and a representative from the German public banking system. The Albuquerque group hosted a similar event in 2015, more locally-focused, convening City and State officials with leaders from business and higher education.
After it was determined that New Mexico’s political climate was not yet receptive to a statewide public bank, Santa Fe considered public banking. The Mayor and Governing Body studied whether a public bank could generate revenue and reduce expenses for the city. A city council-commissioned Feasibility Study reported in 2016 that a city-owned public bank was feasible and in 2017 the Mayor and City Council appointed a nine-member Task Force to continue the research. The Santa Fe Public Bank Task Force determined that the City’s cash resources were not sufficient to establish a chartered bank. They also determined that the New Mexico Constitution’s anti-donation clause could present a legal barrier. The Task Force concluded, however, that the idea of public bank at the state level was worthy of consideration.
Acting on the Task Force’s recommendations, Santa Fe City Council passed an October 20, 2018 Resolution to support the State’s exploration of a public bank.
Following the Santa Fe Public Bank Task Force’s spring 2018 report, the leadership of Banking on New Mexico and of Public Bank for Central New Mexico initiated planning meetings which led to the creation of the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity.
On November 4, 2015, the members of WeArePeopleHere! and Banking on New Mexico lost their remarkable founder, colleague and dear friend – Craig Barnes.
Throughout Craig’s half-century career as a political activist, author, lawyer, radio host and playwright, he was consistently a driving force behind causes he knew would improve peoples’ lives.
During the Vietnam War he ran for Congress in Colorado as a Peace Candidate. As a civil rights lawyer in the ‘70s, he fought for school integration in Denver, equal pay for equal work for female nurses, and the “sunshine” of open government in the legislative process. As a Director of Common Cause, Craig urged its founder, John Gardner, to allow states to work on a broad democracy agenda, paving the way for Common Cause chapters in all 50 states.
As a member of the Beyond War movement in the ‘80s, he negotiated nuclear issues with leaders in the Academy of Sciences in Moscow and worked with Russian and American Scientists on a book to educate people on the devastating effects of Nuclear War.
In the ‘90s Craig facilitated talks to end ethnic cleansing in the Caucuses of the former Soviet Union and led negotiations yielding transboundary water treaties in Central Asia.
As the 21st Century began, Craig and his family made a new home in Santa Fe and he turned his attention to writing and commentary. He published four books, four plays, and countless newspaper, magazine and radio essays, analyzing political and economic concepts and promoting progressive thinking. During the Santa Fe years, Craig had his own radio show, Our Times with Craig Barnes on KSFR, where his wisdom, humor and expert guests made it one of the station’s most popular.
Craig Barnes’ writings and lectures revealed how a resurgence of oligarchic power and the rejection of liberal values by the privileged wealthy were eroding the very foundations of democracy, and led to the formation of WeArePeopleHere! His fierce commitment to a rekindling of the cause of social and economic justice then fostered our earliest consideration of public banking as a way to truly improve the lives of the people of New Mexico.
In the twilight of his life, Craig remained the driving force behind BankingonNewMexico, his final cause, and we are both humbled and honored to continue his work.