ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry said Monday he will propose spending $1 million to market Albuquerque across the country as a destination for entrepreneurs and others looking to start a business.
In a speech to local business leaders, Berry said a new survey shows people have plenty of positive or neutral opinions of the city – something that city leaders can capitalize on by highlighting Albuquerque’s strengths as an affordable place with good weather and a strong workforce.
“Let’s stop worrying if we’re good enough,” the mayor said at a luncheon of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association. “We’re worth investing in.”
It was friendly ground for Berry, as he received a standing ovation from the hundreds gathered at the Marriott hotel to hear him speak.
“We want to change the trajectory of our local economy by having a robust private sector,” Berry said.
Albuquerque has endured some bad press lately, with harsh stories in The New Yorker and Rolling Stone, outlining problems in the Police Department. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation last year found APD had a pattern of violating people’s civil rights through the use of force.
But Berry said the Police Department also provides a good opportunity to show how quickly Albuquerque can address its problems. The city, he said, has already reached a settlement agreement with the Justice Department for police reform.
Albuquerque simply isn’t seen as negatively as people might think, Berry said.
He pointed to a survey conducted by Research & Polling Inc. that polled 1,000 business professionals across the country.
More people than not described the city as safe, a great place to raise a family, dynamic and interesting, the mayor said, among other positive qualities.
“We are seen nationally as an incredibly affordable place,” Berry said.
But many of the professionals were neutral when asked about Albuquerque, the mayor said, providing a chance to shape their opinions with new marketing efforts.
Berry said he wants to target the Bay Area and other places with strong startup communities, marketing Albuquerque as a great place for entrepreneurs and budding companies.
He also wants to lure back young adults who have left the city, thinking there aren’t good opportunities in New Mexico.
The proposal will be sent to the City Council, he said. The $1 million would come from an economic development action fund, which holds the financial incentives Schott Solar had to pay back after closing a plant in Albuquerque.