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Economic Development Initiative to begin at Branigan Library 2018

Applications will be accepted beginning Tuesday, Feb. 20 at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave., from prospective creative entrepreneurs who want to receive business skills training through an economic development initiative the City’s public library will participate in.

Branigan Library is among a select group of public libraries in New Mexico that are participating in a pilot project that will implement creative economic development hubs in five communities.

The initiative, called Libraries as Launchpads, is led by the New Mexico State Library, Creative Startups, a business accelerator based in Santa Fe, and Fab Lab Hub, a fabrication and prototyping laboratory at Santa Fe Community College. Libraries as Launchpads will fast track potential entrepreneurs from idea and concept, to action and business formation. The program coordinates projects at five pilot libraries: Zuni Pueblo, South Albuquerque, Santa Fe’s Southside branch, Raton and Las Cruces.

The project will target creative entrepreneurs, which is anyone who seeks to make a living from creative industries such as jewelry design, graphic design, or art-inspired products.

Consisting of a four-week intensive LABS pre-accelerator program designed by Creative Startups for entrepreneurs just getting off the ground, Libraries as Launchpads will help budding entrepreneurs go from idea to action with their businesses.

“Working with public libraries throughout the state is ideal because we can reach creative entrepreneurs in communities from Raton to Las Cruces; and all New Mexico communities have creative entrepreneurs who need access to highly effective entrepreneurship training workshops and resources,” said Alice Loy, chief executive officer of Creative Startups.

The third partner in the venture, Fab Lab Hub Santa Fe, offers five leading-edge technologies that help entrepreneurs design and prototype their product concepts.

“Creating functional prototypes is an important part of Fab Lab Hub’s work,” said Sarah Boisvert, Fab Lab Hub founder. “We’re thrilled to bring concepts to life for the creative participants in the Libraries as Launchpads entrepreneurship program. After all, the magic starts when you can hold an idea in your hands.

”Lea Wise-Surguy, executive director and co-founder of Cruces Creatives, will join the project as the educator who will facilitate entrepreneur training and activities at the library. Branigan Library staff and Wise-Surguy will participate in a two-day intensive training in Albuquerque, today and Friday, to learn more about the project and how it will be implemented.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this,” said Margaret Neill, Branigan Library administrator. “As a pilot site, we are helping to shape the project as it develops, so we can make sure it meets the needs of the creative entrepreneurs in our community.”

The project is being funded by the New Mexico State Library Foundation, University of New Mexico EPSCoR, New Mexico Gas, New Mexico State University Arrowhead Center, and private donors. Donations can also be made at the Foundation’s website: http://www.statelibrarynmfoundation.org/.

Creative entrepreneurs interested in participating in LABS can email Neill at mneill@las-cruces.org, or call 5/528-4017. Entrepreneurs can also go to http://hitchhiker.nmstatelibrary.org/libraries-as-launchpads/ and http://creativestartups.org/libraries-launchpads to learn more and to complete an application. The deadline for applications is March 11, and classes begin April 2.

Going forward, the partnership plans to bring resources, including books and technology equipment to the library to further support entrepreneurs. In 2019 it is anticipated Libraries as Launchpads will expand to 20 libraries across the state. The team is working with libraries to identify regional entrepreneurship educators, community partners, and maker spaces that can support the project.

“Creating sustainable expertise and collections resources in libraries statewide to assist entrepreneurs will have direct positive economic results across New Mexico,” said Ryanne Cooper, assistant state librarian.

Thomas Branigan Memorial Library is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 575/528-4000.

New Mexico State Library The mission of the New Mexico State Library is to provide leadership that empowers libraries to support the educational, economic, and health goals of their communities. The State Library also delivers direct library and information services to those who need them. The State Library supports research, life-long learning, and cultural enrichment for all New Mexicans. The New Mexico State Library is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

Creative Startups was founded in New Mexico in 2007 and today their renowned startup accelerator serves entrepreneurs around the world. The Creative Startups Accelerator program has graduated 65 startups, LABS have served 32 startups. Creative Startups maintains a strong presence in New Mexico, providing support New Mexican entrepreneurs through the Zuni Pueblo Artwalk, workshops, and the accelerator. Information about Creative Startups an be found online at: http://www.creativestartups.org.

Fab Lab Hub is a part of the international digital FABrication LABoratory network based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded by CBA Director Neil Gershenfeld, Ph.D., Fab Labs democratize access to the five basic tools of digital fabrication, including 3-D printing, laser cutting and marking, CNC machining, vinyl cutting, and microelectronics assembly, all tied together with computer aided design (CAD). Focus at each of the more than 1,000 Fab Labs worldwide is determined by the individual founding organization.

Fab Lab Hub, LLC, a New Mexico company whose mission is to foster New Collar Job Training and Entrepreneurship, operates Fab Lab Santa Fe, at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) and its sister, Archimedes Fab Lab, at the Santa Fe Business Incubator. Fab Lab Santa Fe, in the Trades and Advanced Technology Center, is bringing a digital badging program to SFCC for technical skills needed in smart manufacturing. Digital badges are portable credentials that verify attaining expertise in a specific area of study.