I am interested in the idea of how entrepreneurial ecosystems gain momentum and reach self-sustaining rates or “escape velocity”. I know New Mexico and Albuquerque have much of the raw material required for successful ventures, the state has several decent exits a year from innovative private firms. I have had a hand in at least one. However, few ventures currently reach a magnitude that registers on the scale of critical economic impact on our state.
What is that impact I am seeking? — Significant sustained generation of good jobs — vital, high-skill private sector positions that give people in NM a reason to stay here (or move here, if need be). And all the positive knock-on effects from job-generation: rising spending, smart investments, and an expanding pie that everyone will benefit from.
I was with several friends recently and we took stock of the current climate for entrepreneurial activity. I think that a fair summary of the group’s assessment is that while we have made important strides over the past decade, these gains are still difficult to see in the context of a state economy that continues to be overly-reliant on government-based employment — particularly since we are working from a small base. Let’s be clear: no one wants to ‘solve’ the issue by pruning our governmental sector, what we are looking for is a large relative increase in private sector activity. Small innovative private firms are the ticket to quality growth and positive outcomes.
All of which leads me to the question posed in the title: How will it happen here? I believe that its time for focused, results-based programs that can pull together the broad collection of human and technologically-based assets we have here (in good supply) into accessible, investible business opportunities. Without a focused effort, I think we risk losing the hard-won gains we’ve made to other regions that are making considerable competitive investments.