NMSU’s Arrowhead Center, Navajo Tech Collaborate to Provide Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University and other organizations are collaborating with Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, N.M., to help improve economic conditions across the Navajo Nation by providing technological tools for future generations.

The Navajo Nation is one of the largest American Indian tribes, stretching 27,000 square miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 40 percent of tribal members live below poverty and less than 10 percent possess a college degree.

Thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NTU is collaborating with Arrowhead Center and several other New Mexico universities, incubators and manufacturers serving diverse markets to help young people and businesses explore opportunities in technology and entrepreneurship. The Advanced Rural Manufacturing, or A.R.M., partnership hopes to stimulate the Navajo economy with technological innovation that transcends spatial collaborative constraints to create Advanced Manufacturing virtual hubs to conduct business and discover new technologies.

A.R.M. is a statewide collaboration of industry, academia, and government spanning the Navajo Nation Eastern/Northern Agencies and five county regions of McKinley, San Juan, Santa Fe, Dona Ana, and Otero.

“The role of this program removes poverty as an obstacle for our students and introduces a model capable of propelling Navajo Nation youth with potential to establish themselves in advanced technology industries,” said Ben Jones, director of the Navajo Tech Innovation Center.

Zetdi Sloan, director of the Arrowhead Technology Incubator, said the incubator will assist NTU with building out K-12 entrepreneurship programs similar to its popular Innoventure program, which offers competitions and camps to middle and high school students across the state. Arrowhead will also share their best practices in developing technology transfer programs, collaborate on Small Business Innovation Research Program/Small Business Technology Transfer activities, introduce networking opportunities and work with businesses to provide internships for students.

“All of us have worked hard towards the same goal, and this collaboration will be impactful for students from K-12 all the way to graduates into successful business programs that enable more families to build their careers at home here in New Mexico,” Sloan said.

Representing a consortium of universities, incubators, and manufacturers serving diverse markets, A.R.M. partners include Arrowhead Center, Navajo Technical University-Navajo Tech Innovation Center, NTU Center for Digital Technologies, Emerging Technology Venture and InXsol.

Jones said the collaboration between ETV and NMSU brings together industry and education in a research learning environment to discover, develop and deploy new innovations, ultimately increasing interconnection, creating change and self-sustaining opportunities within the Navajo community.

“Young children benefit from stable homes with an informed parental environment that provide seamless academic transitions from K-12 into college and eventually apply their own learned skills,” Jones said. “Career pathways will be strengthened in a variety of contexts by engaging parents in a degree program with on-campus childcare and internship opportunities, involve high school students in dual credit programs and possible business startup.”

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU