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Capitalizing on momentum: New business group aims to bring recognition to ABQ’s West Side

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new business association is working to promote Albuquerque’s long-overlooked West Side.

“We do want a higher quality of life for our residents, and we want to ensure that our area businesses are successful,” said Melissa Sanchez, founder and executive director of the Albuquerque Westside Business Association.

During a virtual event on Tuesday, Sanchez discussed the new group and answered questions from listeners.

She said the West Side faces a variety of challenges, from infrastructure to simple recognition, but added that the neighborhood has momentum with several large companies announcing or breaking ground on new facilities in recent years.

“All of these big companies that are locating to New Mexico and choosing the West Side … that is really a tremendous boost to our economy,” Sanchez said.

Albuquerque’s West Side has long lacked the base of jobs that other districts have. Sanchez, who said she has lived on the West Side since moving to Albuquerque in the early 2000s, said many residents end up commuting to other parts of town, which means a lack of foot traffic for local restaurants during the day. Sanchez said the problem has only gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Additionally, she said the region, which the business association defines as west of the Rio Grande and north of Central Avenue, struggles with name recognition, as she said many Burqueños conflate it with Rio Rancho.

Still, the region has momentum, with a number of companies, including Amazon and Ben E. Keith, choosing the West Side to expand in Albuquerque in recent years. This has led to more West Side workers being able to work and patronize businesses in the area, Sanchez said.

“They’re spending their entire day on the west side of the river,” she said.

The Westside Business Association formed last year, but Sanchez said the pandemic has slowed its development.

The organization is advocating for businesses in the region to county and state officials. Sanchez said she’s monitoring bills, including the paid sick leave proposal, that will impact businesses in the area.

The organization is also offering an online job board that businesses may use for free, and member promotion through social media. Anyone interested in learning more can visit www.ABQWestside.org.

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