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CEO: NM businesses are missing opportunities in Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the Albuquerque-based engineering and contract manufacturing firm Team Technologies, said trade with Mexico offers lucrative growth opportunities that most New Mexico businesses have ignored.

“We’re sitting on a huge international market just south of us,” Sachs said in a public presentation Tuesday. “We have a lot to offer Mexican companies in terms of goods and services that they need and which can help build our manufacturing base. It’s an amazing market that until recently we really haven’t taken advantage of.”

Sachs, who this year established a machine shop in Chihuahua City for engineering work with aviation firms in partnership with Mexican investors, was one of about two dozen businesspeople, government officials and economic development professionals that presented at a Southwest Business Summit on Tuesday morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albuquerque. The summit, co-sponsored by the Libre Institute and the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, brought together representatives from Latino business organizations in different states to discuss policies and economic issues facing entrepreneurs.

The summit included panels on government regulation, energy, trade with Mexico and challenges and opportunities for growth in the region.

It’s the second time since 2012 that the Texas-based Libre Institute — a conservative advocacy group that focuses on free enterprise and limited government — has brought regional Hispanic chambers of commerce together in Albuquerque.

“We do this around the country through policy forums and panels at colleges, churches, chambers of commerce and so forth to generate dialogue about policies that promote economic growth and those that don’t,” Libre President Daniel Garza told the Journal.

The Libre Initiative is, at least in part, financed by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire co-owners of Koch industries who are known for providing funding for conservative causes through affiliated organizations such as Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust. Libre itself is founded and run by Latino conservatives and Republicans such as Garza, who was a former staffer in George W. Bush’s White House before forming Libre.

Notwithstanding the group’s political positions, the summit provided an opportunity for regional Hispanic businesspeople and professionals to share ideas and discuss joint initiatives, said Alex Romero, chair of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s an opportunity for different chambers to discuss what they’re doing in their markets,” Romero said. “We don’t get a lot of opportunity for these kinds of conversations with our peers.”

The panel on trade with Mexico, for example, spurred a lively discussion about growing export opportunities for small businesses.

Albuquerque consultant Eric Renz Whitmore said such conversations could inspire more entrepreneurs to explore trade.

“I think the big problem with businesses in New Mexico is we think too small when we need to be thinking global,” Renz Whitmore said. “We have programs in Albuquerque and trade experts who are geared up to help businesses to reach international markets, but too often it’s an afterthought.”

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