Capital, Training, Facilities Assist Entrepreneurs in Albuquerque
With its abundant resources for entrepreneurs, including access to venture capital and business resources for small firms, it’s no surprise that Albuquerque boasts the largest number of private firms of any city in New Mexico.
As its population approaches the one million mark, Albuquerque has 19,077 businesses, the U.S. Census Bureau reports, ranking it 61st among U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas for its number of private businesses.
Organizations like WESST (Women’s Economic Self-sufficiency Team) are among the reasons the city is home to so much entrepreneurial activity. Founded in 1988, WESST has nurtured the entrepreneurial hopes and spirit of thousands of individuals by providing training, technical assistance and access to capital. Seventy-five percent of clients are women, 60 percent are minorities, and 70 percent have low or very low income.
“Entrepreneurship for a long time has been key to this area,” says Agnes Noonan, president of WESST.
In 2009, WESST opened the doors of the WESST Enterprise Center, a mixed-use business incubation facility in Albuquerque. The 37,000-square-foot center offers state-of-the-art amenities and business assistance programs for up to 20 light manufacturing, service, professional and technology businesses.
By 2011, companies at the enterprise center had created a total of 197 new jobs with a payroll of $12.7 million, generated $23.4 million in revenue, and raised $9.4 million in equity investments.
WESST is not alone. ACCION New Mexico, a nonprofit that provides emerging and existing entrepreneurs with access to credit, loans and training, has made more than $27.3 million available to 2,604 small businesses. The organization is active in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.
Entrepreneurial initiatives continue across the region. Information technology company Nova Corp., owned by the Navajo Nation, recently launched a mentoring and business incubation service for Navajo students and entrepreneurs in its newly established data center in Albuquerque.