UNM Rainforest Innovations

The 2022 UNM Business and Economic Summit took place on October 26 at the Lobo Rainforest Building. The purpose of the summit was to collectively consider a potential Right to Start Act in New Mexico to reduce barriers for entrepreneurs in our state.

UNM President Garnett Stokes kicked off the event followed by opening remarks by Howie Morales, Lieutenant Governor for the State of New Mexico.

The first panel of the day included New Mexico legislators, and they discussed the potential of a Right to Start Act in New Mexico. The panel was moderated by Jason Grill, Head of Government Affairs at Right to Start, and included Representative Meredith Dixon, District 20; Representative T. Tyan Lane, District 3; and Senator Michael Padilla, District 14.

The event broke for lunch and resumed with keynote speaker Victor Hwang, Founder & CEO of Right to Start. Victor talked about Right to Start which is a campaign to rebuild the American economy by making entrepreneurial opportunity a top priority in every community. They do this by providing expertise to policymakers to make it easier to entrepreneurs to grow and thrive, they organize grassroots efforts, and lift the voices of entrepreneurs within communities. Entrepreneurship is important because it creates new jobs, improves standards, and acts as a driver for innovation and change.

The next speaker was Doug Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President of UNM Health Science and CEO of the UNM Health System. He introduced the next three panels focusing on entrepreneurship in New Mexico.

The first afternoon panel was on Tribal Entrepreneurship and was moderated by Sandra Begay, Secretary Treasurer of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, and Chair of the UNM Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors. The panel included Liz Gamboa,
Director of New Mexico Community Capital; Angelo McHorse, Owner of Bison Start Naturals; and Vanessa Roanhorse, CEO of Roanhorse Consulting.

The next panel discussed the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and was moderated by Edgar Solis, Advocate of Right to Start in New Mexico. The panel included Dana DeRego Catron, PhD, Deputy Director of the Arrowhead Center and SBIR Program Director of NM FAST; Marie Longserre, President & CEO of the Santa Fe Business Incubator; Lorenzo Reyes, Jr, PhD, Associate Vice President for Workforce and Economic Development at San Juan College; Rose Reza, Executive Director of UNM-Taos H.I.V.E; and Drew Tulchin, President of the New Mexico Angels.

The last panel discussed Opportunities for Entrepreneurial Growth: Leveraging New Mexico’s Increased Revenues. The moderator was Alex Greenberg, Director for the Office of Science and Technology at the New Mexico Economic Development Department and member of the panel included Rob Black, President & CEO of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce; and Dale Dekker, Founding Principal and Architect of Dekker Perich Sabatini; and Francine Sommer, CEO of Respect Wellness

Closing remarks were given by James Holloway, PhD, Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UNM.

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