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Albuquerque Economic Development Department Hosts Women’s Small Business Summit

City and business leaders share stories, discuss key topics that impact small businesses
January 30, 2020

January 31, 2020

Today, the City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department hosted a Women’s Small Business Summit. The nearly daylong event brought together women leaders from the City and the small business community. They shared stories and discussed challenges and ideas that impact small businesses. Panelists and speakers presented on key topics such as doing business in Albuquerque and with the City, elevating Downtown, millennial leadership, equity and inclusion, film in Albuquerque, supporting the creative economy, and being a woman in male dominated industries such as the brewery industry. This was an opportunity for women to learn from one another, share with one another, and become more aware of the many existing initiatives in support of small business.

“I am continuously inspired by the passion and dedication to success of Albuquerque’s small business owners and the differences they make in people’s lives every day. Our small business community plays such a crucial role in the success of our city, from the health of the economy and supporting community causes, to placemaking and building new connections between people,” said First Lady, Elizabeth Kistin Keller. “The Women’s Small Business Summit was so energizing because it allowed women of different backgrounds, career positions, and business types to come together to connect and build relationships, to celebrate successes, to identify challenges, and to craft solutions.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and at the core of our administration’s economic development plan,” said Sarita Nair, CAO, City of Albuquerque. “From Engage and Tipping Points for Creatives, to Job Training Albuquerque and the Small Business Office, we are here to support local entrepreneurs, more than half of whom are women and people of color. The Women’s Small Business Summit allowed us to highlight some of the small business challenges that women experience differently than men.”


Albuquerque is home to over 42,000 small businesses that fuel the City’s economy and provide 300,000 jobs. An estimated 16,000 small businesses are minority-owned, and another 16,000 are women-owned.

“Girl Power is strong in Albuquerque. We have strong female leaders at every level of government, in many of our organizations, and many women are small businesses owners. We know that we are stronger when we work together, we continue to build an economy that works for everyone, and to make Albuquerque the most business-friendly city in America. The Women’s Small Business Summit was all about bringing women together to share with one another our stories and experiences, learn from one another, and to discuss challenges, ideas, and the future,” said Synthia R. Jaramillo, Economic Development Department, City of Albuquerque.

The event covered a range of topics: Doing business with the City, elevating Downtown, doing business with the City, millennial leadership, equity and inclusion, film in Albuquerque, cultivating a creative culture, the brewery industry. 

“We need to double down on downtown. It’s tough right now,” Cailyn Kilcup, Somos ABQ/FacilityBUILD.

“Understand there is no work-life balance. It’s something we just pretend is happening,” Tess Coats, Owner, Cpur Line Supply Co.

“We need a less adversarial process. Its waiting energy. We need a true understanding of what small businesses need,” Erin Wade, Owner, Vinaigrette, Modern General, The Feel Good.

“Don’t marginalize seniors. They have a lot to offer,” Mary Martinez, Owner, Home Instead Senior Care.

“When we started Downtown, there was nothing. With Zendo Coffee, I wanted to create a space for community to gather, a place where you belong,” Pilar Westell, Owner, Zendo Coffee.

“We are a non-profit community food space in Downtown. We are using power, love, and local food to create economic opportunity, improve community health, and bring community together,” Anzia Bennett, Executive Director, Three Sisters Kitchen.

“The City spends over $400 million on goods and services every year… and we buy all types of things. We want to get to a point where the majority of our business is done with woman owned businesses,” Haley Kadish, Performance and Innovation Officer, City of Albuquerque. 

“Diverse Office Supply has landed a big new contract with the City. 3 people with special needs have been hired full-time,” Kerry Bertram, Owner, Stride Inc. 

“RPF’s were foreign to me, Im a restaurant owner. Getting involved in community is key. I found myself developing relationships,” Myra Ghattas, Owner, Slate Street Café, Sixty-Six Acres.

“It’s important for companies and managers to understand that millennials are no longer 22-year olds fresh out of college. The oldest millennials turn 39 this year. We area already leading companies and having families. We might be your coworkers, your bosses, or the clients paying a check. Its now a business imperative to understand where this generation comes from, what we want in the workplace, and how we communicate. The smartest leaders are actively leveraging the skills and vision this demographic brings to the world,” Annemarie C. Henton, VP of Marketing and Business Development. 

“Be confident and curious, ask questions, seek leadership, cultivate patience value history, communicate across generations, say yes, be present, position yourself for advancement, follow up and follow through, know you belong,” Nyika Allen, Director of Aviation, City of Albuquerque.

“Sometimes it can be difficult, you work hard and other people get the credit,” Alicia Ortega, Executive Director, All Pueblo Council of Governors.

“Sometimes you have to support yourself even if that means having a side hustle to put yourself where you want to be. I performed native dances to put myself through school, Melonie Matthews, Co-Director, Gathering of Nations.

“Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul were brought to us by women filmmakers. Our table is for anyone who wants a seat,” Elissa Kannon, Training Coordinator, IATSE Local 480.

“The creative economy matters a lot in Albuquerque, and the City of Albuquerque supports culture and creativity, Dafina McMillan, Owner, McMillan Works Inc.

“City government has a role in cultivating a creative culture, but we all need to participate. Hire creatives, be a patron of the arts, be a member of the museums, watch a show and be an audience member, get engaged,” Shelle Sanchez, Director of Cultural Services, City of Albuquerque.

On why women are in the kitchen at home, but men are in the kitchen professionally: “I blame the French,” Emma Gibson, Executive Chef, Toltec Brewery.

“What industry isn’t male dominate? The female movement in craft beer is at the top of the iceberg,” Leah Black, Executive Director, NM Brewers Guild.

Support for Small Businesses is a key focus for the Keller Administration. In 2019 the City continued efforts with the Engage and Tipping Points for Creatives programs, launched the Small Business Office and Job Training Albuquerque as well as made big strides in its Buy Local initiative bringing over $8,000,000 dollars back to the local economy by switching out of state contracts to local vendors.

The Women’s Small Business Summit concludes the City’s State of the City celebrations. Click to view Mayor Keller’s 2020 State of the City Address