Paul Mondragón tries to expand his and Bank of America’s presence in the community – Albuquerque Business First

After a year and a half as senior vice president and senior relationship manager at Bank of America, Paul Mondragón feels the need to always try and do more.

Bank of America was second in Business First’s Largest Banks List behind Wells Fargo. The rankings were determined by the volume of local deposits, in which Bank of America had $3.84 billion in 2016. Mondragón sat down with Business First to give an update on his bank’s performance, along with strategies on how Albuquerque and New Mexico can grow.

What is the status of your bank’s performance?

I can say Bank of America is very strong through all of the compliance tests we have to go through with the FDIC The capital tests we have to go through, we are above where we need to be. So we are very strongly capitalized. We are a different organization than we were coming out of the financial crises. Exceptionally strong balance sheet right now. I think we have like half a trillion in cash.

A year and a half or so on the job, what have you learned about the job, about yourself that you didn’t know before?

There’s always room to do a little more, and there’s always more asked. Whether it’s internally, working with the teams or it’s external, getting out and meeting people in the community. There’s a real need in the community for not just banks, but other companies to step in and step up and help our community. If you look at the nonprofits, there’s always a need for housing. Specifically, homelessness and housing. We’ll rally volunteers to go and help out. We also send dollars there.

What’s your strategy for inching closer to Wells Fargo in terms of local deposits?

It’s about doing right by our customers. We think we have a great platform — our online services, we think we have great people — we want to bring that to the customers and show them the value by bringing the full bank to them. Whether it’s consumer deposits, or it’s some specialized commercial banking, high-touch treasury management needs, Merrill Lynch, corporate investments, whatever it happens to be, we can bring that to our customers, and that’s how we want to win is by depth with those customers that really can get value out of the service. No super special sauce.

Do recent scandals at Wells Fargo affect your operations at all?

I’ve got a bunch of friends there. It’s unfortunate, I’ll say that. We’ll focus on ourselves and doing what we need to do in order to win customers.

How can Albuquerque and New Mexico grow?

What’s kind of inspiring right now is the grassroots efforts with ABQid, Innovate ABQ … everything that is really working toward the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s great everything AED is doing, New Mexico Partnership, all these different groups trying to bring in companies. I think the real thing is trying to bootstrap ourselves up with our entrepreneurial spirit and trying to grow internally. Focusing the city’s effort, the state’s effort on those companies already here I think is the best way. We want to still call and get those people from outside to move here, but the consistency of being able to support the local business, whether it’s the bank’s lending money, the city and the state with their tax incentives to help them. We need to shop local, we need to buy local. If I want a doughnut, I go to Donut Mart, I don’t go to Krispy Kreme. If I want a burger, I’ll go to Laguna Burger. That’s what I want, as much as possible. I shop at Duran’s all the time. I think that’s one thing is people can look at themselves and their habits on where they’re spending money.

Largest Banks in New Mexico

Ranked by Deposit volume, local

Rank Business name Deposit volume, local 1 Wells Fargo Bank N.A. $8.48 billion 2 Bank of America N.A. $3.84 billion 3 U.S. Bank N.A. $1.52 billion View This List

Paul Mondragón tries to expand Bank of America’s presence in the community

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Santa Fe and Albuquerque in the Top 20 Cities for LGBT-Friendly Retirement in 2018 by – Albuquerque Business First

Two cities in the Land of Enchantment have made the list of Top 20 Cities for LGBT-friendly retirement in 2018 by is one of the nation’s leading senior housing referral services, according to the company’s news release. This is the website’s second annual list for best retirement cities for LGBT seniors. SeniorAdvice included both medium-sized and large U.S. cities in the 2018 list, defining medium-sized cities as those with 50,000 to 500,000 residents and large cities as those with over 500,000 residents.

The 20 cities on this year’s list were chosen based on a variety of factors, including percentage of LGBT population in the area, available social activities and festivals, presence of gay-friendly senior communities, LGBT Chamber of Commerce presence and more. SeniorAdvice also based rankings on the cities’ SeniorScore, an algorithm that determines how well a city accommodates the needs of senior citizens, incorporating variables such as access to health care and population of senior residents. Data comes from sources including Medicare and the U.S. Census Bureau. The SeniorScore is broken into four categories: health and safety, recreation and leisure, finances and general quality of life.

Ranking No. 6 is New Mexico’s capital, with a SeniorScore of 75 percent. Santa Fe boasts a high senior population of 14 percent, according to SeniorAdvice. SeniorAdvice commends Santa Fe for its "fresh and progressive stance" toward the LGBT community, despite being America’s oldest capital city. Its abundance of culture, art, shopping and dining also contribute to its desirable atmosphere, perfect for gay retirees, according to SeniorAdvice. There are also numerous senior living facilities in and around the city, including Birds of a Feather in Pecos, New Mexico, which ranked No. 9 on SeniorAdvice’s list of Top 15 LGBT-Friendly Senior Living Communities in the U.S. Founded in 2004, Birds of a Feather is a thriving LGBT-friendly senior community on a 140-acre property just outside of the village of Pecos and 30 minutes east of Santa Fe.

The Duke City ranks No. 18 out of the top 20 cities in the country for LGBT-friendly retirement with a SeniorScore of 73 percent. SeniorAdvice recognizes Albuquerque for its low property taxes and great weather. Albuquerque is also home to Equality NM, a statewide LGBT advocacy and civil rights organization that spearheads policy changes on behalf of the LGBTQ community. The Duke City hosts the annual Pride Fest at Expo NM and is home to numerous gay-friendly hot spots and gay-owned local businesses, serving as an all-around destination for the LGBTQ traveler, according to the Visit Albuquerque website.

The LGBT community is a big contributor to New Mexico’s economy, both as sellers and consumers. Thirteen companies made last year’s list by Albuquerque Business First of the top LGBT-owned businesses in the state. The leading six companies submitted 2016 revenue figures that totaled about $19 million.

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Suit claims DOH neglects boarding house oversight

SANTA FE – A nonprofit group that advocates for the rights of people with mental illness is suing the New Mexico Department of Health and Cabinet Secretary K. Lynn Gallagher for failure to enforce rules and regulations pertaining to the oversight of boarding homes.

Patients who leave the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, N.M., often end up in substandard local boarding houses.

Disability Rights of New Mexico, a nonprofit group with offices in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Las Vegas, N.M., claims in the state court lawsuit filed Monday that DOH is shirking its responsibilities, which “poses a dire public health and safety risk to some of the state’s most vulnerable populations.”

The group is asking a judge to issue an order requiring DOH to begin enforcing provisions of the state Public Health Act on boarding homes or show cause why not.

“The state has taken no responsibility in enforcing those,” said James Jackson, Disability Rights New Mexico’s CEO. “We’re hoping that the judge will get them to begin the process immediately.”

The lawsuit refers to ongoing boarding home problems in Las Vegas, N.M., including a case where two men who had been patients at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 2013 after moving into a storage shed rented out as living space.

Disability Rights visited multiple boarding homes in Las Vegas and Albuquerque, and found “a multitude of egregious residential conditions,” including overcrowding – with as many as 20 people sharing a bathroom – mattresses on the floor, inadequate or dangerous heating and air-conditioning, and filthy kitchens and bathrooms.

A DOH spokesman wouldn’t comment on the suit, but provided a statement that said, “The New Mexico Department of Health takes seriously its role to ensure quality health care for the state’s most vulnerable. We will continue to work with state lawmakers and other agencies to address these challenges.”

Jackson said legislation to make it clear DOH should regulate boarding homes was vetoed last year by Gov. Susana Martinez. The bill came on the heels of a Journal investigation that revealed poor living conditions in some Las Vegas boarding homes,

The lawsuit states that people with mental illness often end up in unregulated boarding homes after being released from the Behavioral Health Institute and other mental health care facilities. They are often at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation, the suit states.

The lawsuit alleges that since 2014, DOH has taken the stance that it regulates boarding homes only to the extent that they meet the definition of “assisted living facility.”

But Disability Rights says DOH has a responsibility to provide oversight of boarding homes under the Public Health Act’s definition of “health facility.” The suit says that the definition for a health facility under state law includes any “boarding home not under the control of an institute of higher learning.”

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Blue Bell announces its return to NM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Here are the cold hard facts about Blue Bell Ice Cream: The Texas-based company will reopen its distribution facility in Albuquerque and fans can once again find their favorite frozen treat at area supermarkets and drug stores the week of March 12.

“It has always been our goal to return to the Albuquerque area,” said Wayne Hugo, vice president of sales and marketing for the company. In 2015, Blue Bell pulled its ice cream out of the frozen dessert aisles after a listeria outbreak.

“Blue Bell has been available in parts of southeastern New Mexico since 2016. And now, with the addition of Albuquerque and its surrounding area, we are able to offer our products to even more stores across the state,” said Hugo. “We can’t thank our customers enough for their patience.”

The company has begun ramping up its workforce for its distribution facility in Albuquerque. “We will continue hiring over the next few months,” Hugo said.

The company curtailed production and distribution in 2015 after its products were linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas. Production plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama underwent an extensive cleaning and decontamination process.

Known as “the little creamery in Brenham (Texas),” Statista, an online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal, said Blue Bell, despite its setbacks, is doing big-time business. Statista said it was the fifth-ranked ice cream brand in the U.S. in 2017, with $425 million in sales. Total ice cream category sales amounted to about $5.4, billion according to Statista,

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