With a population that is majority-minority and an increasing number of immigrants eager to enter the workforce, Albuquerque represents the near future of every American city. The goal of the City Accelerator project in Albuquerque was to support immigrant entrepreneurs by improving access and ease of business development services.
In an effort to assure full participation in the economy, the Mayor’s Office had been eager to hear from small business owners through what they called “small business deep dives.” These intimate conversations between immigrant service providers and the Mayor with his staff were fruitful in uncovering complex issues related to the needs, priorities, and challenges of both parties. The Albuquerque team then implemented “Design Days” organized and attended by stakeholders to co-design tools and practices that support these immigrant entrepreneurs. The benefits of this participatory approach are twofold: trust is built between the constituents and the government through a transparent process, and there is more trust by not making false assumptions about one another’s needs and viewpoints.
Through the extended process of both the “small business deep dives” and the Design Days, the City of Albuquerque also had opportunities to share prototypes with the community to demonstrate a feedback loop during iterative technology development. To this end, the city team prioritized building capacity for co-designing future civic technology projects.
Moving forward, this project will gain more visibility through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and the Economic Development Department. To date, the team has engaged over 70 services providers and immigrant entrepreneurs through six deep dives across the city. Through feedback from immigrant entrepreneurs, the logic of utilizing available services is now integrated into the platform’s design because it was informed by end users.