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Albuquerque Journal Editorial Sheds Insights on Living Cities Grant

Albuquerque, NM – March 10, 2014 The March 7th editorial by the Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board reveals how important the Innovate ABQ partnerships among UNM, the city, the county and community leaders were in the City’s successful bid for a Living Cities grant for economic development. To read the editorial, see “‘Living Cities’ Selection Has ABQ on Right Track,” reprinted below.

Editorial: ‘Living Cities’ selection has ABQ on right track

“New Mexico should be the biggest innovation state in the country with the labs and the opportunity we have here. I think it’s the biggest moment the city’s ever had.”

— UNM President Bob Frank, on Albuquerque’s selection to “Living Cities”

The president of the state’s leading research university could very well be right in describing the potential of an exciting project garnered largely through the hard work and persistence of Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, whose office will serve as the “backbone” for the project.

“Living Cities” is a collaborative effort by 22 of the world’s largest charitable foundations and financial institutions — everyone from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Bank of America. Being one of just five cities in the nation accepted in the second round is a significant endorsement of area leaders’ plans to “reshape policies to meet the needs of a cross section of residents for greater economic mobility.”

And that endorsement comes with potential access to serious dollars. The five cities in the first round split around $85 million in grants, low- or no-interest loans and similar funding. In addition to Albuquerque, this round includes Seattle, San Francisco, San Antonio, Texas, and New Orleans. Not bad company.

And there’s no question membership in this exclusive club could be parlayed into other fiscally and programatically profitable partnerships.

Berry gives much of the credit for the selection to UNM’s “Innovate ABQ” effort to create a Downtown research district where start-up companies, researchers, students and entrepreneurs are housed together to create a synergy of innovation. He also credited New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union and its $3 million investment in Innovate ABQ.

“No one can do it alone,” Frank explained in a joint presentation with the mayor to the Journal editorial board this week. The proposal and the acceptance feature many entities “working together” to build a “knowledge economy.” Credit Union president and chief executive officer Terry Laudick adds it’s essential to “move beyond programs and projects to a shared vision and metrics. Integration is critical.”

As is long-term economic impact. While the next year will be a planning one, early proposals include bus-rapid transit along Central to literally drive economic development, seed money for entrepreneurs and linking K-12 programs to college degrees and business. Frank points out that while Living Cities provides a potentially large pot of money, it’s a finite pot, so the bottom line has to be all about “entrepreneurship driving economic change, not social programs.”

Metro-area leaders did a great job breaking down barriers and building partnerships to raise Albuquerque into the rarefied air of Living Cities. Now it’s incumbent on all involved to make the most of this planning year to keep us there.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Source: Albuquerque Journal

For more information, contact:

Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board