City summit aims to start job creation discussion

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – What will it take to get Albuquerque out of this recession? One group doesn’t pretend to have the answers, but they do hope they can start a discussion that leads to solutions. Economically, Albuquerque has a lot of challenges to overcome if it wants to recover from this recession. Albuquerque Business First hopes to give the city a boost by bringing together community and business leaders in their first Reinventing Our City Summit.

“The recession didn’t hit Albuquerque quite as deeply as it did a lot of major cities in the southwest, but we just have not been able to come out of it,” says Albuquerque Business First Editor-in-Chief Rachel Sams.

Albuquerque has suffered seven consecutive months of job loss. As other states and cities in the region are getting back on track, Albuquerque is struggling economically.

“We’ve relied so much for so long on the federal government. We have the labs, we have contracting, and I think people thought that would always be the case,” Sams says.

Yet, with federal budget cuts, Sams says it’s become increasingly clear the state needs more jobs and new jobs.

She says New Mexico has become too reliant on a small number of companies and industries. Factor in other economic development challenges like Albuquerque’s isolation from other centers of commerce, issues like education and workforce readiness and Sams says it puts the Duke City at a disadvantage.

“That creates a really weird situation where there’s a lot of unemployment and there are even more people who are under-employed and yet, there are businesses where pretty good jobs, high-skilled jobs and, in some cases, high-pay jobs, are going unfilled,” says Sams.

But Sams hopes to turn the tables for Albuquerque. Albuquerque Business First is hosting a city summit to bring the business community together to develop a vision for the city’s economy.

“The goal is really to leave that day with a commitment by business leaders to continue that conversation, create that plan for what we want Albuquerque to be and how to get us there in terms of job growth,” explains Sams.

Sams says in studying other states that have bounced back from the recession, they’ve learned it’s a process and one that won’t happen overnight. It’s why she says the quicker a plan is developed, the quicker residents and businesses can begin the road to recovery.

“This discussion is a great opportunity to hear what really well-versed local business leaders think are our strengths. That’s a really great place to start as far as what we want to target in terms of attracting new business and moving forward,” Sams says.

Some of the panelists scheduled include Mayor R.J. Berry, the President of CNM and the real estate developer behind the Winrock Town Center Project.

The summit is set for July 17 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The public is invited to attend but there is a fee for registration.

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