Nearly 1 in 10 residents of Albuquerque is foreign born. While these new residents seek economic self-sufficiency, there are frequently barriers and learning curves that can be discouraging to anyone searching for an opportunity to succeed in a new place. Through a series of community workshops with the purpose to understand the collective needs of the incoming population, the city learned that immigrant entrepreneurs often felt disconnected from the wealth of services it offered. Albuquerque’s City Accelerator project sought to improve access to these services and support immigrant entrepreneurship. Through the City Accelerator, Albuquerque:
- Engaged over 70 immigrant business owners and community organizations in workshops to design a website and application to connect immigrant entrepreneurs to programs and service organizations that best meet their needs.
- Partnered with APPCityLife, a local tech firm, to build the mobile and data platforms for the app the city is developing. This platform will help entrepreneurs avoid relying on Google searches and word of mouth to find service providers, offerings and other resources from their mobile devices.
- Refined plans to launch a new Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) to connect immigrants and refugees with services that will expand their economic opportunity and family well-being.Held six deep-dive sessions to engage over 75 immigrant, tribal and creative entrepreneurs to identify needs, challenges and opportunities. The deep-dive sessions were hosted by community-based organizations, and were translated for Spanish-speaking residents.
A recent report by the New American Economy indicates that over 11,000 immigrants in New Mexico are self-employed. These businesses employ nearly 25,000 people statewide and generate over $190 million for the state’s economy. Promoting economic development in immigrant communities is a way of empowering and creating a two-way dialogue with new Americans while growing the local economy. By engaging with immigrants and refugees, cities make a powerful commitment to include all of their residents — regardless of origin, citizenship status or language ability — in strategies that can reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency.
Through community engagement, Albuquerque is putting its people at the center of designing and using new and existing services for business owners. The city’s approach to community engagement has also put immigrant entrepreneurs at the center of the technology platform, which will help connect them to the programs and services they need to start and grow their businesses. This in turn helps Albuquerque grow its local economy.