UNM Rainforest Innovations

Heather Gomez is one of the newest Tribal Liaisons to join the New Mexico Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program. With a passion for business and helping others, Heather Gomez’s entrepreneurial prowess makes her a valuable resource and mentor for the program.

Heather is from Dulce, New Mexico and is both an enrolled member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Spanish. Some of her current roles include owning and handling business activities and marketing for Big D Flooring in Dulce, New Mexico; working remotely as a Project Consultant for Tribal Tech, LLC, a Native woman-owned business that manages government contracts; she works as a Digital Editor with NPR’s NextGen Radio and NextGen Radio Indigenous; she started Dulce Base Tipi on Airbnb this past year; and in the summer she runs a Facebook page called Brush of Beauty Painted Furniture where she sells chalk-painted furniture. She has also worked with the Bureau of Indian Education and the Administration for Native Americans.

UNM Rainforest Innovations was awarded an EDA American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance grant to help break down barriers and generate opportunity through entrepreneurship in historically underserved communities in New Mexico. Through this grant, the Tribal Entrepreneurship Enhancement Program aims to create new jobs, produce higher incomes, and spur inclusive growth through entrepreneurship by linking resources and assisting entrepreneurs in filling voids. The Tribal Liaisons are an important component of the program, and they work to connect with entrepreneurs to serve as navigators, dedicated mentors, and connection points.

What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

I would have to say that working for the Jicarilla Chieftain was a great professional accomplishment for me because I was serving my community and Tribal Nation as the Editor of the newspaper. Most recently, I was chosen for the Embark Program with Founded Outdoors and REI. I will be awarded a $10,000 grant for my tipi Airbnb business. I am really looking forward to being a part of that cohort and meeting everyone associated with the program.

What interested you in the tribal liaison position and what do you hope to accomplish through the position?

I was interested because I am constantly looking for new opportunities geared towards Indigenous populations. I get excited to make positive change and I genuinely care about people. I hope to accomplish the goal of helping other aspiring entrepreneurs succeed in their business endeavors. 

What personal achievement or accomplishment are you most proud of?

I just received my professional certificate in Cultural Heritage and Tourism from George Washington University and must give a shoutout to the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) for providing the scholarship for me to take the classes. The tourism industry is booming right now and I am excited to expand my tipi Airbnb business located on the Jicarilla Apache reservation next year!

What would you say to an aspiring entrepreneur or small business owner just getting started?

Make a plan and stick to it, be consistent with your everyday goals, and before you know it, you will make great progress. Use the resources that are being offered to you, take advantage of the programs you can qualify for, and ask questions.

Connect with Heather Gomez at h_gomez_505@yahoo.com 

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