The Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico has approved the proposed board of directors for Innovate ABQ, Inc., a New Mexico nonprofit research park corporation.

The board currently consists of six members including: R.J. Berry, mayor, City of Albuquerque; Terry Laudick, president and chief executive officer, New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union; David Harris, UNM executive vice president for administration; Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor and vice chancellor for research, UNM Health Sciences Center; Sherman McCorkle, past president of Technology Ventures Corporation and Charles I. Wellborn, former president of STC.UNM (retired).

The idea for Innovate ABQ began two years ago with a commitment by UNM President Robert Frank to involve the university much more actively in economic development in the community. Frank was driven by the realization that UNM graduates needed a strong business environment to provide jobs and an incentive to use their new skills in New Mexico.

“We envision a high energy district where people live in closer proximity,” said UNM President Robert G. Frank. “We want it to be more pedestrian friendly and offer a place for students and entrepreneurs to work and live.”

Frank joined with city and local business leaders to form the idea of setting aside an area of Albuquerque as a place to begin developing a thriving research and innovation district. After a formal search, the old first Baptist Church site at the northwest corner of Central and Broadway was chosen as the core site within Innovate ABQ’s larger research and innovation district.

Contributions by New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, the City of Albuquerque, the UNM regents, and a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to STC.UNM allowed purchase of the seven-acre property.  Bernalillo County has also committed $1 million that will be used for future development of the property.

The UNM Regents made a conscious decision to initiate Innovate ABQ with a limited number of board members. In the past UNM had begun projects incorporated in this way with small boards, which then expand as the project is developed. 

UNM has a vision of focusing and supporting the university’s and the city’s research, innovation and entrepreneurship programs through development of the property. It will be part of the board’s job to explore how the vision might develop. Plans are for the board to work with business people to encourage an economic infrastructure of restaurants, support services and recreational activities in the immediate area.

The property for Innovate ABQ is about a mile west of UNM on Central Avenue and Frank said he expects the university to grow toward Innovate ABQ in a westerly direction in the future.

The board will guide development and renovation of the Innovate ABQ property. A master plan for the property is expected to be complete in early 2015. The board will seek interest from developers in the form of a request for information.

UNM's mission, through Innovate ABQ is to strengthen the economic base of the Mid Rio Grande region and the state of New Mexico.