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ABQ to host State Department economic summit


Mohammad Jelani Sani Cai, an Afghan with the International Rescue Committee, toured Acoma Pueblo this month as part of an international delegation hosted by Global Ties ABQ. (Photo courtesy of Global Ties ABQ)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Hundreds of businesspeople, civic leaders and public officials from the U.S. Southwest and Latin America will converge in Albuquerque in August for a State Department-sponsored summit on entrepreneurship and economic development.

Global Ties ABQ and the Santa Fe Council for International Relations partnered on a joint proposal to host one of four “Diplomacy Begins Here” regional summits that the State Department is organizing around the country. The Duke City event, scheduled for Aug. 3 at the Albuquerque Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Downtown, will explore the impact of innovation, culture and international relations on economic development along the Camino Real and beyond.

“New Mexico … has one foot in the U.S. and one in Mexico due to cultural ties,” said Global Ties ABQ Executive Director Adelle Lees. “We are at the epicenter of converging national borders and our state is working to economically capitalize on these unique assets.”

Global Ties ABQ is part of the Global Ties U.S. network that unites more than 40,000 citizens across the country in State Department efforts to build connections among U.S. communities and people from other countries. Through the program, volunteer “citizen diplomats” host foreign delegations of businesspeople and emerging leaders to exchange ideas, build ties and potentially forge new business, social and cultural partnerships.

The Global Ties ABQ initiative, initially run as the Albuquerque Council for International Visitors, rebranded itself in 2015 as an affiliate of Global Ties U.S.

The State Department provides $75,000 a year to finance hosting activities in New Mexico.

“We host about four delegations per month and bring more than 250 international visitors a year to Albuquerque,” Lees said. “We have 80 local volunteers who provide key cultural exchange aspects to the program.”

That’s mutually beneficial for visitors and the Albuquerque community because it builds connections, said Global Ties ABQ Board President Darrell Garcia.

“Today, our ecosystems are part of a global community, not just local, and this offers a transfer of ideas both ways,” Garcia said. “They take information to their countries, but they leave behind ideas, thoughts and global connections that can lead to business opportunities.”

Last year, Global Ties ABQ led a five-month business accelerator, financed by a $14,000 Mayor’s Prize grant, that brought 52 local and foreign entrepreneurs together to explore international trade opportunities.

The upcoming summit will focus on the creative economy, “social entrepreneurship” to build businesses with social missions and indigenous entrepreneurship.