Dear Mr. Quigley,
In your most recent article titled, “Wanted: Entrepreneurs to Fuel Albuquerque’s Economy,” you ended this great piece with the following questions:
It has long been an open question whether entrepreneurs are made or born. Is it possible to train someone to see the world as a collection of unmet needs just begging to be satisfied? Or are people just wired that way? And, however they got that way, is it possible that they will want to live here?
Yes, it is possible to train to see the world as a collection of unmet needs. And yes, it is possible they want to live here. These “entrepreneurs” you speak of are already here. They’re Millenials.
From spurring home sales in the metro area to influencing economic development in Downtown, Millennials are the new measure of the strength of the Albuquerque economy.
With good reason: Across the country, the 20- to 34-year-old set has gone from being the kids next door to being the double-income family down the street – at least in economies that are doing well.
That’s where the trouble starts for Albuquerque. While our economy is moving steadily out of the Great Recession, Millennials in our city are struggling to transition from job-creation programs to actual employment.
In fact, according to a University of New Mexico study, 60 percent of native-born New Mexicans leave the state, and only 2 percent of them return. As my aunt and mentor Adelamar “Dely” N. Alcantara, a University of New Mexico research professor and demographer, said in a story published in the Albuquerque Journal, “You lose your best and brightest.”
There have been a lot of great networking events and collaborative efforts in the Innovation District to try to figure out what it’s going to take to create jobs to attract Millennials to The Duke City. Everyone recognizes the problem, but a solution doesn’t seem to be in sight.
But, from where I sit, at my messy desk in Fatpipe ABQ, it seems pretty clear: Private-sector business incubators give Millennials the space, support and community to start and grow businesses that will ultimately become the backbone of the city’s economy.
My own agency, Siarza Social Digital, started less than a year ago and, thanks to the community and collaborative environment at Fatpipe ABQ, has already grown to three full-time employees, two part-time staff and half a dozen local contractors — many of whom are also Fatpipe ABQ tenants. And all of those employees – including me – are Millennials.
The reality is that Millennials want to be in Albuquerque. One visit to a Young Professionals of ABQ or miABQ event will show you that this young, active, community-minded demographic is eager to put down roots and make a meaningful impact on our city.
Where there is a space to laugh, brainstorm ideas and drink a few brews, you will find Millennials – working hard and contributing to the economy. Fatpipe ABQ gave me and my business exactly the opportunity we needed to set up shop and get to work.
Started a year ago this month, Fatpipe ABQ has created a unique co-working space that allows for a multi-generational group of entrepreneurs to collaborate and learn from each other. The Fatpipe ABQ community is exactly the kind of ecosystem that supports business development for every kind of entrepreneur. Having grown up embracing diversity, Millennials are seeking out unique perspectives, insights and opportunities. Sure, some of the other Fatpipe ABQ tenants are Gen Xers and even Boomers, but it’s that diversity of experience that makes Millennials like me feel right at home – and gives us what we need to develop professionally.
The way I see it, in Albuquerque we have two choices: We can watch Millennials continue to take their skills, potential and dollars out-of-state, or we can commit to supporting small businesses, like mine, which employ and empower Millennials and give them not just a reason to stay, but also the financial ability to stay in our community.
Siarza Social Digital