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11 Reasons to Start a Business in Albuquerque

This vibrant New Mexico city offers everything entrepreneurs need to succeed, from business-friendly policies to networking opportunities and plenty of fun to be had after work.

By Claire Hannum on June 19, 2018

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque / Photo courtesy of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Inc.

Looking for the perfect place to start a new business or expand your existing company? Look no further than Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Southwestern city is witnessing an entrepreneurial renaissance with the help of startup-friendly culture, excellent universities and a great cultural scene for that ever elusive work-life balance. Albuquerque’s tech scene is so vibrant that even Facebook is setting up an outpost in the area, and the city has seen a nearly 10% increase in average salaries over the last four years. With STEM jobs galore, Albuquerque also earned a spot on our 2018 list of the Top 10 Best Cities for STEM Workers

But let’s break it down, shall we? Here are 11 reasons why ABQ is the perfect place to do business:

1.  There’s no shortage of startup incubators.

“Our city has chosen to focus and invest in growing our startup community in recent years, leading to a handful of accelerators, new and increased activity for incubators,†says Eric Renz-Whitmore, the City of Albuquerque’s Entrepreneur Development Manager. “Much of this was funded by the city’s EDACT (Economic Development Action) fund.”

Startups and entrepreneurs can find support with programs like FUSE Makerspace from Central New Mexico Community College, coding bootcamps and community accelerators. You’ll also find lots of specialized incubators, like a program focused solely on arts entrepreneurs and the BioScience Center, the only incubator in the state focused on life-science and bioscience startups.

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2. Tech companies love it here.

Albuquerque seems to have something of a magic touch for tech companies. Major businesses like Sennheiser, Lavu Inc, RiskSense, Trilumina, and AppCityLife have all found great success in the city. If that weren’t exciting enough, Facebook is planning to launch a new data center near Albuquerque later this year.

3. There’s plenty of funding to be found.

The state of New Mexico has a special $20 million catalyst fund for new tech companies and startups. So far, three of the fund’s recipients are based in Albuquerque. There are also lots of opportunities for VC funding from firms like Verge Fund, which works specifically with entrepreneurs, investors and startups in the Southwest.

4. The city encourages tech innovation that benefits the economy.

“The city passed a Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) which allows the city to enter ‘public private partnerships’ with the state in projects that benefit the local economy,†says Erin E. Barrio of the Verge Fund. “[It] has begun to invest in the revitalization of tech innovation in our city by collaborating with community organizers, investors, government and academic universities.†Albuquerque also works with other organizations at the state level to find funding for startups and encourage growth.

Albuquerque NM
Albuquerque / iStock Photo/benedek

5. There are excellent coworking spaces.

You’ll find plenty of great coworking communities to choose from. Among the most popular is FatPipe ABQ, a collaborative coworking space that encourages members to share their ideas and work together.

6. Albuquerque provides support for female entrepreneurs.

Local groups like WESST, a business development and training organization that was founded nearly thirty years ago “by women, for women,†offer great opportunities for female business owners. “I think Albuquerque is especially awesome for women entrepreneurs because we celebrate that diversity in our city,†says Clint Reecer, WESST’s Albuquerque Regional Manager. “The women that come to see WESST feel very empowered and confident that they will be supported in entrepreneurship at every level, from the city all the way down to the end customers.”

7. You can make your business official in less than a day.

Albuquerque extends support to small businesses by streamlining the process of registering your business, forming an LLC or managing any other logistical details that can come with getting your passion project off the ground. “In Albuquerque, you could form a new company, register for federal and state tax IDs, and get a city license in a couple of hours through 100% online systems,†says Reecer. 

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8. You can work from home without losing your mind.

Albuquerque is a fantastic place to meet other entrepreneurs and creatives. This is vital in the world of startups, where you’ll often find yourself sequestered in your living room by yourself, staring at a laptop screen into the wee hours of the night. Entrepreneurship is a big part of the city’s culture, and a large portion of residents begin their businesses from home – meaning you won’t have trouble finding fellow work-from-home peers to bond with.

“We have a big home-based business culture here,†says Reecer. “The city has been great in allowing all kinds of non-disruptive businesses to operate out of entrepreneurs’ homes. Businesses in both communities are supported with great infrastructure for fast internet, shipping & highway transportation, and some great networking events that keep entrepreneurs connected.”

When you’re ready to venture out of your home office, you can make friends and professional connections through local morning networking programs like One Million Cups or CreativeMornings. You can find guidance through local Entrepreneurial Office Hours and Mentorship Mondays, or you can simply meet more pals through programs like the city’s monthly Entrepreneurial Happy Hours or TAZA, a weekly event for Spanish-speaking business owners.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque / Photo courtesy of Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Inc.

9. The great outdoors are right in your backyard.

Unlike many large cities, Albuquerque is right next door to some of the most breathtaking natural settings you can imagine. The Albuquerque area is home to gorgeous hiking and biking trails, campsites and National Parks. “In half an hour or less you can be on top of a mountain, in farmland, at ‘the Bosque’ along the Rio Grande, or visiting some natural wonders,†says Renz-Whitmore. The opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure in the ABQ area are endless and easily accessible. 

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10. You’ll never run out of amazing food to try.

“We’ve always been a great food city,†says Renz-Whitmore. Albuquerque is regularly ranked as one of the most exciting food destinations in the country, which makes for a much happier lunch break on a busy work day. After all, whoever said there’s no correlation between productivity and a happy stomach has never experienced the joy of a New Mexican burrito.

11. And you’ll always be able to end your day with a cold beer.

Albuquerque’s emerging brewery scene is making waves across the country. Events like ABQ Beer Week, along with the city’s increasing interest in craft beer and even distilling, makes for more happy hour options than you could ever need – but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to sample every last one. 

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