Job Creation & Economic Development

ABQ WORKS 

Creating jobs, fostering broad based economic growth and boosting innovation 

It’s time to fulfill Albuquerque’s enormous potential. As Mayor, I will prioritize real, concrete ideas to create jobs, ignite innovation, and foster broad-based economic growth.

For too long, our city’s economic development strategy has focused on trying to lure large, out-of-state employers to Albuquerque. While recruitment is an important piece of the puzzle, it is only one part of a larger economic development strategy. For Albuquerque to be successful, we must place increased emphasis on growing the incredible businesses located right here in the city. My approach focuses on creating jobs by establishing an economic environment in Albuquerque where every business, nonprofit, and entrepreneur can hire at least one more person.

As Mayor, I will work to build our economy from the ground up by investing in the growth of local businesses, while working to explore and enable game-changing developments with system-wide impact.

I bring a unique combination of skills to the job, including 15 years of private sector experience, deep public-sector experience and budget knowledge, and a track record of bringing together diverse coalitions to tackle difficult challenges.

The ideas outlined in this plan are drawn from my own experience in the public and private sectors as well as input from business and community leaders throughout Albuquerque. They include:

  1. Putting Local Business First

  2. Expanding the Innovation Economy

  3. Preparing Local Talent

  4. Championing Cultural & Natural Assets  

Put Local Businesses First

Goal: Increase job opportunities by focusing on the growth of local business

As Mayor, I will focus our robust set of economic development tools on growing existing and emerging businesses. My aim is to create the economic environment in Albuquerque where every business, nonprofit, artist, and entrepreneur can hire at least one more person. 

Strategies 

  • Utilize existing economic development tools to grow local businesses. My administration will focus on enabling existing and emerging Albuquerque companies to grow. To do this, we will leverage existing tools like industrial revenue bonds and tax increment districts and further enhance programs like the Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas and Enterprise Zones to roll up incentive programs often used to attract outside companies to work for companies who are already here and ready to grow. 

  • Increase access to capital by investing locally. It is time for Albuquerque to increase our investment in local industries. Today, the city invests roughly $400,000 a year to support companies in the ABQid accelerator program. Compare that to the City of Austin which has venture funds nearing $40 million. My administration will pursue a two-step process to in enable the city to invest in local industry. First, we will create a city investment fund, similar to those run by most large cities and the State of New Mexico. By professionally managing city money in a diversified portfolio, we can safely increase our returns by one to two percent. Second, we will utilize a portion of these returns to invest in innovative start-ups through programs like ABQid and InnovateABQ and provide capital to local small businesses through partnerships with support organizations like WESST, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), and others.

  • Prioritize local contracts. Our city spends close to $80 million dollars a year in various contracts with the private sector. Almost $20 million of that goes to firms outside our city and our state. Even basic services like coffee procurement, pet tag online registration, and website design are currently contracted to out-of-state firms, but could easily be shifted to local companies. I am confident that with thoughtful, proactive collaboration with local businesses and business associations like the New Mexico Technology Council, the economic impact of directing this funding back into the community will far outweigh the benefits of awarding contracts to simply the lowest bidder.

  • Create an intermodal transportation hub. Albuquerque is uniquely situated at the union of two major interstates, and two major transcontinental rail lines, and a half-day drive from the Santa Teresa port of entry with Mexico. Plus, we have one of the longest most serviceable commercial runways in the country at our airport. It is the confluence of three transportation infrastructure assets that creates the opportunity for an economic game changer. Despite this, most of our own city firms that export products out of state, have to truck their products to Denver or Dallas, because we have not connected our air, freight and rail transportation infrastructure. It’s time we enable our own companies to send products around the country without having to go through another major city. My administration will develop a collaborative strategic plan to leverage this unique position to create a range of growth opportunities for existing and emerging logistics and transportation businesses in Albuquerque.
  • Reduce red tape in zoning and planning. My administration will streamline the city’s permitting process and examine opportunities for eliminating bureaucratic hurdles that hinder local businesses. This includes a focus on eliminating the duplicated processes followed by the city, county and water authority that cost business months, and sometimes years in duplicative and unneeded paperwork and waiting periods.

Expand the Innovation Economy

Goal: Increase job opportunities by capitalizing on Albuquerque’s innovation ecosystem

Albuquerque has no shortage of homegrown talent and innovators. We are a center of excellence in both the optics/photonics industry and the field of biomedical research - which too few people know. Our economic development strategies must prioritize supporting and expanding the sectors where Albuquerque already has a base of high-wage jobs and a competitive advantage. 

Strategies 

  • Continue to bridge the gap between local research and local industry. Albuquerque is home to a wealth of world-class innovative research institutions including the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), Sandia National Labs, and the University of New Mexico (UNM). Building on efforts like InnovateABQ, my administration will continue to play a major role in bridging the gap between local research and local industry. To do this, we will realign the economic development department so that it functions more as a support arm for local job creators, offering technical assistance, helping to identify grants and other opportunities, and serving as a connector between local companies and the workforce they need and the markets they seek to serve. Working collaboratively we can enable the expansion of existing high-growth areas like advanced manufacturing, biomedical engineering, cybersecurity, microelectronics, and optics and photonics. 

  • Tailor recruiting efforts to key sectors. Support for the expansion of existing high-growth sectors such as micro-electronics, directed energy, photonics, optics, biotechnology and cyber security in the city will enable Albuquerque Economic Development (AED) to focus their recruiting efforts on industry sectors where Albuquerque has significant momentum, critical mass, and a competitive advantage over other cities looking to attract the same companies. By connecting our own trademark growing industries with our recruitment efforts, we can truly become regional and national centers of excellence in industries going through rapid expansion and growth.

  • Become Energy Neutral. My administration will demonstrate national leadership and create local jobs in energy by working with PNM and local solar companies to utilize city structures and the integration of solar, wind, and distributed generation to make the city’s net energy bill zero. We can further utilize this distinction to retain and attract emerging innovation businesses that place a premium on the use of renewable energy. 

  • Accelerate the downtown innovation corridor as a prime live-work-play destination. Private developers are working on various visionary ideas to turn the old, dilapidated properties along the downtown rail spur corridor inside out to create transformative urban mixed use spaces that can attract residents, businesses, and families from all walks of life to this innovative, culture rich corridor. Following the old rail lines from the railyards through downtown and curving west toward Wells Park and on to the Sawmill and Old Towne, this line represents Albuquerque’s chance to create a game changing multi use pedestrian, tourism, business and bicycle corridor (on par with the high line in NY). This plan would also connect some of the gems of our city including: the railyards, InnovateABQ and the Convention Center to the growing Wells Park brewery area, the Sawmill District mixed use developments and historic Old Town. The transformation of these connective assets will enable the retention, growth, and attraction of local businesses and professionals and serve as key draw for city tourists. 

Prepare Local Talent

Goal: Prepare Albuquerque residents for the jobs of the future.

Companies looking to expand in or relocate to Albuquerque often comment on the lack of a skilled workforce. My administration will focus on a unified, citywide effort to upskill 10,000 Albuquerque residents to prepare them for the jobs of the future. This effort will ensure that all residents can take part in the exciting economy we will cultivate together.   

Strategies 

  • Collaborative planning to prepare for future jobs. Too often large contracts and the associated jobs leave our state because Albuquerque doesn’t have the workforce to meet industry requirements. My administration will work with existing and emerging businesses and research institutions to understand how their workforce needs are evolving and how the city, through key partners like CNM and UNM, can begin training residents now for the specialized workforce needs of the future.

  • Pipeline development. Workforce training needs to begin early. My administration will build on existing efforts and ensure the education programs provided over the summer and after school programs match employer needs. Programs like coding camps and health care apprenticeship programs will give students an advantage as they enter the workforce. Additionally, we will work collaboratively with CNM, APS, and job trainers such as Job Corps to identify drop-outs and near-completers and reach out to re-engage them in education tailored to opportunities in our local economy.

  • Mentorship. My administration will engage current large and medium sized employers to better match actual market skill needs with job-training programs to create a realistic pipeline to jobs for graduates. We will also work to secure more commitments for dedicated internships and training programs with local employers, and create an Albuquerque Youth Corps to provide skills, mentorship, and job experiences for troubled youth seeking a new path.

  • Citywide reach. Residential development on the westside of Albuquerque continues to grow disproportionately to employment opportunities. My administration will partner with CNM and UNM westside campuses to create accelerator and entrepreneur spaces on the westside, and in other parts of the city, that build upon the experience of the successful programs contributing to the revitalization of downtown.

CHAMPION CULTURAL & NATURAL ASSETS

Goal: Grow our economy through investments in the arts, open spaces, and tourism

Albuquerque is home to a vibrant creative and cultural economy and unparalleled natural beauty. My administration will work to grow our city’s economy through strategic investments in the arts and open spaces and to bolster tourism based on these unique assets. 

Strategies 

  • Expand the creative economy. Investment in the arts and local artists is key to growing the Albuquerque economy. I plan to partner with organizations, such as Creative Startups or ABQid to establish an investment fund to bolster the creative economy in Albuquerque. My administration will ensure that these local entrepreneurs and small businesses have access to the same types of mentoring, training, investment, and incubation services we offer to technology innovation companies and other small businesses.

  • Invest in creative community hubs like the Railyards. My administration will support makers, artists, and performers by investing in key community hubs including westside gathering spaces, a downtown arts center, and a revitalized Rail Yards that can be utilized for year-round markets, maker spaces, performances, and art installations. These investments will enable Albuquerque to become a prime location for creative entrepreneurs and businesses throughout the southwest.

  • Maintain and market our natural assets. In addition to our tremendous cultural assets, Albuquerque’s system of parks, the Bosque, open space, and trails is one of our greatest strengths in providing a high quality-of-life to our residents and attracting businesses, professionals, and tourists. My administration will maintain and market these unparalleled natural assets and better integrate them with afterschool and education programs for kids and adults.

  • Increase tourism. Tourism is one of Albuquerque’s largest industries. My administration will boost the city’s economy by marketing Albuquerque locally, nationally, and internationally as a year-round destination brimming with natural and cultural attractions and unique experiences. This plan includes working collaboratively with neighboring cities, tribes, and other entities to create a unique and unified regional tourism effort.

  • Support the growing film industry. Albuquerque has established itself as a top destination for television and film production. My administration will continue the policies and practices that have enabled the industry to thrive in Albuquerque. Efforts to prepare residents for the film jobs of the future and to create permanent local jobs along the industry supply chain will continue to be important.