Building an economy that works for everyone - Albuquerque Journal

Building an economy that works for everyone

Synthia Jaramillo

Economic growth in our city is critical to making, and keeping, Albuquerque strong. But some of the old strategies haven’t worked. Albuquerque is behind the rest of the United States in income growth – for everyone. Working poverty is on the rise, while the share of middle class households has declined.

Our families deserve better. They deserve access to good-paying jobs that create opportunities to get ahead. Turning these trends around and fulfilling our city’s enormous potential starts now, by doing business a little differently.

When Mayor Tim Keller appointed me as the city of Albuquerque’s Economic Development director, we sat down together and articulated our mission: build an economy that works for everyone. We’re not just going to use a singular approach like trying to lure the big fish; we’re going all-in to create quality jobs, play to our strengths to foster growth, and ignite innovation.

We created an economic development strategy that focuses on six critical areas to build an economy that works for everyone:

1. Increment of One: We can help businesses create local jobs one at a time by using existing economic development tools. If homegrown entrepreneurs are able to scale up their businesses, they can be game-changers right here in our city.

2. Buy Local: We’re using the buying power of the city to systematically swap out-of-state contracts for contracts with local vendors. By using local businesses for our goods and services, we can keep millions of tax dollars in our local economy. We’ve already done this with coffee and business cards — simple purchases that should come from local businesses.

3. Smart Recruitment, Retention and Expansion: We will use economic incentives wisely to attract businesses that create good-paying jobs, grow sectors where we have a competitive advantage, and grow the size of our economy – not just divide up the pie.

4. International Business: We can capitalize on our unique placement along two major interstates, our international airport, and our foreign trade zone while promoting Albuquerque as a strategic location for foreign small to medium-sized enterprises.

5. Creative Economy and Film: Our creative economy is an important element in the economic vitality of Albuquerque. Our unrivaled culture, cuisine, art, music and film industries are key to economic development and to our way of life.

6. Placemaking: The measure of any great city is the degree to which people and places are connected. We’re focusing on core city locations and engaging communities as we re-develop areas like the Rail Yards, the Tingley Beach-El Vado-BioPark corridor, the multiuse development at Central and Unser and the new Civic Plaza.

All of these approaches will be rooted in the principles of equity. The strongest economies are those that prioritize equitable growth to create jobs for folks from all walks of life. We’re working closely with the newly created Office of Equity and Inclusion to make sure businesses owned by women and people of color have access to resources usually unavailable to underserved communities.

We can’t do this alone. To transform our economy, we need everyone to come together, as One Albuquerque, to face these challenges. By working together and focusing on these strategies, Albuquerque can bring economic growth and prosperity back to the city we all love.

This is an invitation to you, the community. If you’re a small business owner, we want to know: what would it take for you to hire one, five or 20 people? Larger companies: where is one area where you can start to buy locally? And to our residents and partners in economic development: will you join us?

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