ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While the International District is saturated with car dealers and auto repair shops, people in the area are welcoming a different kind of business. The district’s first economic development center is opening August 1, hoping to revitalize the area and turn its reputation around.
International District Economic Development founder Alex Horton was born and raised in the area. He said he knows what it is like not to have many thriving businesses or shopping centers around. Now, he is trying to change it for the better.
“I want it to be seen, not heard or talked about,” Horton said. “I want people to see the actual transformation that is with the community, by the community.”
The transformation begins at an old 5,500 square foot building in the 100 block of Wyoming Boulevard.
“We took something that is a little bit older and abandoned,” Horton said. “Now, it will be alive and thriving.”
The center will offer workshops, office space and more. Eleven businesses have signed up so far.
“There will be people housed here as part of our startup business incubator program,” Horton said. “We want to attract IT companies and tech. People that will be housed in here are some creative companies like film startup companies.”
In addition to in-house services, the non-profit will provide boots-on-the-ground consulting for local businesses.
“You will be able to walk into a business and say, ‘Oh they’ve hired three more people,’ or ‘There is more businesses opening up, and actually bringing in more revenue,'” Horton said.
He said the goal is to attract people and businesses to the district who otherwise would not come.
“It should attract more people to come and shop here,” Horton said. “More eyes on the street will always help out with crime. We want to change the mindset and show people that it is safe to do business here.”
John Moore lives and works in the district. He said he is excited about the change the center may bring.
“It will promote activities, solid business activities, business people with feet on the street that really care and are invested in this area,” Moore said.
Horton said he hopes more of the area’s abandoned buildings will be redeveloped, just as the center is, to promote lasting change in the International District.
“I want this place to be the light where people realize they can come,” Horton said.
While the center opens next month, Horton is already consulting with businesses in the area. One client is Stretch Fitness. Horton said the gym’s revenue has tripled in the two months since it began services with the center.