Research & Resources: He’s One of the Go-to Guys

Spring, 2007 by Justin Bannister NMSU Research & Resources

Jim Peach (photo by Darren Phillips)

Jim Peach (photo by Darren Phillips)

Don’t expect to find Jim Peach standing still for very long; he’d probably end up late for class or a meeting or another one of his many other duties at New Mexico State University.

“Some days it seems like all I do is go to meetings,” Peach said jokingly. It’s an understandable situation, considering he has more than one job on campus.

Peach is co-director of the Office of Policy Analysis for Arrowhead Center, a nonprofit corporation owned by NMSU and charged with promoting economic development, including the creation and expansion of small businesses in New Mexico.

He has a number of duties at Arrowhead, but he specializes in research, specifically potential economic impact studies.

“We couldn’t be doing half the stuff we’re doing here now without him,” said Tony Popp, also a co-director of the policy analysis office and NMSU’s economics and international business department head. Popp has worked with Peach at NMSU for 25 years.

“You probably can’t go anywhere in the state without somebody knowing Jim. He’s one of those people,” said Popp.

At Arrowhead, Peach, Popp and other NMSU professors look at the economic impact of almost anything, from restructuring tuition rates to hosting the Western Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament to developing a commercial spaceport in southern New Mexico.

“Economic impact studies are very popular,” Peach said. “Plus doing them through the university adds some credibility.”

His Arrowhead research work with economics professor Rick Adkisson showed eliminating out-of-state tuition would not attract enough new students to pay for itself. Other studies he helped complete examined the economic impact of hosting the WAC Tournament in Las Cruces and the economic impact of the proposed spaceport that would likely create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of dollars for the local economy.

“Economic impact studies may influence policy,” Peach said. “Sometimes the people who request the study don’t like the results we come up with.”

Peach has spent 25 years studying the U.S.- Mexico border.

“He’s probably best known for his border research,” said Popp. “That’s what got him a lot of notoriety. He’s one of the go-to guys when it comes to border issues.”

Peach has studied demographic changes, income distribution, policies and other border issues.

“When NAFTA came out, I was one of the few people who didn’t praise it and didn’t condemn it,” he recalled. “I talked about it impartially.”

Peach, who joined NMSU in 1980, was one of the first faculty members to be selected as a Regents Professor – an honor given to highly productive, highly visible professors at the university.

Peach feels teaching is the most important and best part of his job.

“It’s always fun,” he said. “I’ve been doing this off and on for 30 years and the students are always fun. That’s what the taxpayers and legislators expect us to do, teach their kids.”

Peach currently teaches intermediate macroeconomics and co-teaches an economics of sports class with Jim Libbin, a professor of agricultural economics at NMSU. The sports class is by far one of his most popular.

“It’s something we talked about putting together for years, and we just decided to do it. It’s not required for any degree, but we always get 40 or more students to sign up.”

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