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Shift of focus for ABQ economic development

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s new economic development director said she wants to shift the city’s focus from attracting out-of-state businesses to expanding opportunities for local ones.

Synthia Jaramillo, who spent 17 years at the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and most recently was its chief operating officer, echoed recent remarks by Mayor Tim Keller as she discussed what she hopes to accomplish in her new position.

Synthia Jaramillo, Albuquerque director of economic development

“If we focus on the businesses we already have here, we’re going to attract even more out-of-state attention,” she said in an interview with the Journal. “One of the most important things we can do is find new ways to support our local business community.”

Asked about the state’s economic development incentives like the Job Training Incentive Program and Local Economic Development Act funding, Jaramillo said they were “all important tools.” But, she said, she would like to see more of those funds go to small businesses and companies that are already based in New Mexico.

Jaramillo also said she was interested in changing city and county procurement laws so that a certain percentage of contracts are awarded to local businesses, particularly ones that are owned by people historically underrepresented in the business community. Another priority: revitalizing Albuquerque’s Downtown.

“I wouldn’t call it a challenge, though we have a lot of work to do,” said Jaramillo. “Because of the crime, targeting downtown for revitalization is one of our greatest opportunities.”

Jaramillo is the first woman to hold the city’s economic development director position. But she said she doesn’t look at her role “through the perspective of gender.”

“I know how to cultivate a relationship,” she said. “And business is all about relationships.”