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Hub for space, directed energy lands in Nob Hill

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A Nob Hill storefront that once housed an Urban Outfitters has been transformed into a Space Age-themed hub for Albuquerque’s commercial space and directed energy industries.

The city of Albuquerque, in collaboration with the Air Force Research Lab, NewSpace New Mexico and other partners, hosted a ribbon-cutting Thursday afternoon for Q Station, a membership-driven workspace where public- and private-sector workers in the directed energy and aerospace industries can meet, mingle and collaborate.

Gabe Mounce, director of the Space Force Accelerators program at AFRL, told the Journal that Q Station will help the Air Force collaborate with potential partners in Albuquerque’s growing commercial space sector, making connections with startup founders and venture capitalists in the space.

“By being here too, companies get exposed to not just resources in New Mexico, but potential funding streams, to the venture capital community,” Mounce said.

Q station, at 3225 Central NE, lacks traditional desk and office space. Instead, much of the space features an open floor plan, with a mix of tables, chairs and couches arranged throughout the front of the building. Posters and paintings that evoke the Space Age of the 1950s and ’60s adorn the walls.

The back of the building houses multiple common areas with food and drink options, along with a series of booths that occupants can use for Zoom meetings and conference calls. Each room features a mock travel poster from a different celestial body.

Randy Trask, president of the New Mexico Trade Alliance, said the space will be open to partner organizations and members of the business community that are deemed to be an integral part of the community’s directed energy and commercial space ecosystems.

“We don’t want to compete with shared working spaces, we want our shared working spaces to thrive,” Trask said. “This is an enclosed membership to encourage collisions within this particular industry sector.”

Trask said the expectation is that members will use the space for meetings, get-togethers and on a drop-in basis, forming organic partnerships with like-minded Burqueños.

“We want that constant activity,” Trask said.

Trask said people from partner organizations will be able to start working out of Q Station next week as screens and other technology elements are still being added. Other members can begin working at the space later in May, Trask said.

Mounce said the Air Force has focused on doing more outreach to the private sector in recent years, but added that bringing businesses to Kirtland Air Force Base for meetings can be a challenge.

Having the space in Nob Hill, rather than behind the fence, makes it easier to form connections organically and may appeal to out-of-state employees, who may be familiar with similar spaces in Austin, Boston and Los Angeles, Mounce said.

“We’re trying to create that same vibe here in Albuquerque,” he said.

During a news conference associated with the ribbon-cutting, Mayor Tim Keller acknowledged that businesses in Nob Hill and elsewhere have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said this type of partnership will help the community build again as the pandemic abates.

“This is part of creating those bridges between …what’s in the fence line to our community,” Keller said. “To have it right here in Nob Hill is so important.”

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