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Entrepreneurs key to ABQ’s economic rise

Albuquerque and New Mexico are changing the landscape for economic development in the Southwest, and the rest of the country is taking notice.

It’s no secret that our city and state have relied on government jobs as our economic base for decades. We are fortunate to be the home to facilities with the critically important mission of protecting the security of our nation, such as Sandia National Laboratories, Air Force Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, White Sands Test Facility, and several military installations.

But we can all agree that diversification of our economy is badly needed.

Job creation is a top priority for us all — not only does job creation generate positive economic impact, jobs also give us a sense of meaning and purpose. Here in Albuquerque, Mayor Richard Berry has made it a pillar of his administration to create jobs by cultivating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Why? Entrepreneurs create small businesses, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau small businesses make up 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs.

It was recently reported by the U.S. Census Bureau that New Mexico is among the top states for job creation from startup companies; ahead of California, Texas, Arizona and Colorado, and all but three states in the country. And our city business registrations are up 7.3 percent over the last three years. This is a very positive indicator.

The data validates the hard work that so many people in our community have been doing to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and underscores the importance of keeping the good momentum going.

The private sector creating its own jobs is the surest route to success, and there’s a lot of that in the works. This is the first, and perhaps most encouraging, sign that things are beginning to change for the better in our city and state.

And the best part is — it doesn’t depend on what happens in Washington, D.C.

A year and a half ago, Berry laid out a vision for Albuquerque to become the “most entrepreneurial city in America.” At the time, there were no accelerators in the city. But through the mayor’s strong support, the partnership of the City Council and resourcing through the Economic Development Action Account (EDAct) fund, we now have five accelerators locally — all of which support our entrepreneurs, from Main Street, to creatives, to high-growth and tech transfer.

It’s also important to recognize that the word “entrepreneur” also applies to our terrific base of existing companies that make up the core of who we are and what we do; and that through a collaboration with CNM and the Kauffman Foundation, the City of Albuquerque has become the first community in the country to train City employees in Entrepreneurial Mindset Training.

We believe that entrepreneurial activity is among the best barometers to measure the health of a city’s economy. With more successful entrepreneurs, Albuquerque can anticipate job creation, the development of more innovative products, increased economic activity and economic mobility to grow the overall prosperity of our community.

Successful economic development is not an “either/or” proposition – it’s an “and.” In addition to creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, we must continue pushing recruitment efforts.

We know that a good tide raises all boats — and the Mayor’s Office continues to work collaboratively with our long-standing partners at Albuquerque Economic Development, Bernalillo County, the state of New Mexico Economic Development Department, and others for the recruitment of new businesses that bring a welcome shot of additional employment and corporate citizenship to our community.

Notable success stories of this collaboration can be seen in the recruitment of companies like Canon ITS, Rural Sourcing Inc., and Flagship Foods.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. We are focusing on what we can do — not only building on our strengths, but also supporting entrepreneurs in their efforts to create jobs and economic mobility. Stay tuned, and join in – more great things are happening every day.

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