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Groups share Mayor’s Prize to help entrepreneurs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three Albuquerque nonprofits —Technology Ventures Corp., the WESST business incubator and Global Ties — won a total of $199,000 on Tuesday evening through the Mayor’s Prize for entrepreneurship.

The Mayor’s Prize is a new initiative funded by the Albuquerque Community Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to shore up organizations that help build grassroots innovation and entrepreneurship.

Mayor Richard Berry announced the awards at the city’s Epicenter Downtown, where the city hosted a celebration as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week — an annual event taking place this week in Albuquerque and other cities to bolster local technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Technology Ventures Corp. won $100,000, WESST got $85,000 and Global Ties $14,000.

Mayor Berry, who did not participate in the selection of winners, called the new grant competition “good old fashioned barn raising.”

“It’s awesome to see people who have dedicated their lives to making Albuquerque a better place,” Berry said at the event. “Our challenge has been overcoming the notion that the grass is greener elsewhere. That’s absolutely not true.”

The three winners were selected from 11 organizations that were finalists competing for the Mayor’s Prize, which recognizes nonprofits that provide assistance to startups marketing technology from New Mexico’s labs and universities, and that help connect entrepreneurs to resources, support networks and markets. The award also recognizes nonprofits that help strengthen companies with high-growth potential and that support local manufacturing operations.

This is the first year for the awards, which the city plans to turn into an annual competition. The Kauffman Foundation gave $200,000, which was matched by $200,000 from the Albuquerque Community Foundation, to turn the Mayor’s Prize awards into a permanent endowment that will continue awarding grants in the future.

“This program will last long after I’m mayor,” Berry said. “It’s an ongoing legacy project that we’ve started in Albuquerque.”

Technology Ventures Corp. will use its award to expand its assistance for new companies to go beyond their initial startup phase. WESST will use its money to create a new program for creative businesses. Global Ties will help entrepreneurs explore sales in international markets.

The other finalists were: ABQid; Catalyst Week; CNM Ingenuity Inc.; Creative Startups; New Mexico Community Capital; Quelab; Rio Grande Community Development Corp.; and University of New Mexico Innovation Academy.

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