Core Community Housing founder Annie Irizari poses before a meeting with the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Photo Amy Byres / Observer

A Rio Rancho entrepreneur has a dream to become a world enterprise through shipping containers.

Annie Irizari is the founder of Core Community Housing, a social enterprise working to re-engineer shipping containers. She is in the planning stages of her company and has many ideas on what she can do.

“My vision is to make this a global organization; that’s the legacy I want to leave behind. I think it’s still in the infancy stages right now. So I’m just in initiation and planning. I’m trying to kind of render the design; I’m trying to get funding,” Irizari said.

She wants to re-engineer shipping containers to help farming, technology and housing. Irizari has worked with companies like Bank of America as a project consultant, she said.

She wants to use what she has learned in the business world and marry it to social causes she is passionate about, Irizari said.

With a buy-one-give-one-for-others model, people who purchase re-purposed shipping containers from her can contribute to communities in need, she said.

Ideas Irizari has for shipping containers are to make portable aquaponics farming units, pods for computer servers and data centers, and affordable housing.

Her goal is to create affordable solutions to big problems, she said.

“I think it is getting to a point that I don’t know how my daughter — who is a millennial — is going to afford housing,” she said.

She would also like her containers to serve as disaster relief: Her containers can serve as portable medical units or portable housing.

“I grew up in (the Philippines) where disasters are very, very frequent: flooding, typhoons, those kinds of situations. And when I grew up, my professional career has been disaster recovery and technology,” she said.

Her biggest challenge in her social quest has been navigating through multiple organizations — government and non-government — to start her business, she said.

“I’m being very creative in the way I’m trying to find funding,” Irizari said.

She has applied for scholarships, grants and entered contests to secure funding.

“If New Mexico becomes too difficult, I may be tempted to move out of state as well,” she said.

Irizari said she would like politicians to make New Mexico more business-friendly and assist her in her vision.

New Mexico has a gross receipts tax that many other states do not have. GRT is levied on businesses for sales of goods and services, and usually passed on to customers. On average, about 45 percent of New Mexico’s gross receipts are taxable, according to the state Tax and Revenue Department.

“I hate the fact that this state is so bad to do business in. My accountant tells me this all the time: ‘You have to pay a gross receipts tax for services.’ For my accounting services, I have to charge 7 percent, 8 percent, and it keeps going up. From that perspective, that is another roadblock,” Irizari said. “I would like to bring the business here and help the economy, but at the same time, the government has to help us out in order to be successful,” Irizari said.

Core Community Housing is a home-based business in Rio Rancho. Despite challenges, Irizari would like to see her business grow locally, she said.

“I was hoping to start it in Rio Rancho and maybe have a headquarters based out of Rio Rancho. Because I see Rio Rancho as an opportunity, you have open space out here, you have open land, so I’m hoping that I can take advantage of that,” she said.

She is not looking for a handout, but the processes of finding business resources is convoluted, she said.

Sandoval County Director of Economic Development Dora Dominguez said starting a business presents many challenges and New Mexico has many organizations to help.

Resources include:

• New Mexico Small Business Development Center (SBDC),

• Women’s Economic Self-Sufficency Team,

• ABQid,

• Central New Mexico Community College business programs,

• Creative Startups,

• Ignite Community Accelerator,

• ActivateNM and

• Sandoval County Business Development.

“I can personally attest to the volumes written with respect to New Mexico’s need for a one-stop shop for business start-ups,” Dominguez said. “These resources do exist in the state ,but provide little assistance for the business entrepreneur.”

By co-locating organizations where entrepreneurs can obtain business advice and permits, could serve a greater purpose in the business community, she said.

Dominguez said SBDC is vastly understaffed but still works to meet the needs of Sandoval County.

“SBDC is currently working to address staffing and currently looking to once again staff an SBDC office at the Rio Rancho chamber of commerce,” she said.

Irizari said she knows there are resources available; her biggest struggle is finding them.

“I feel like you have to know somebody and then they have to know somebody,” she said.

New Mexico Small Business Development Center Business Advisor Kristin Groves at the Grow Your Business Expo at Santa Ana Star Center on Feb. 25.
Photo Amy Byres / Observer

She was able to find guidance through the center with SBDC business advisors Kristin Groves and Tim Harjo.

“They’ve been instrumental in giving me guidance in the entrepreneurship journey — point me in the right direction, apply critical thinking and focus where needed as the company and business vision evolves,” Irizari said.

Groves said many of the clients she meets with at FatPipe in Rio Rancho need help understanding the rules and regulations of running a business.

“I also see many businesses struggling to find the right employees, not planning their steps and having a hard time finding the right financing. These are all challenges I see our business owners are faced with on a daily basis,” Groves said.

The center offers training and workshops to assist business and will work with a business as long as needed.

“Rio Rancho is a great place to start and/or grow a business and the SBDC at CNM is here to assist them in their community,” Groves said.

Irizari applied to a program through the University of New Mexico to utilize six students working toward their master’s of business administration. It is a 14-week strategic management capstone that will accelerate Irizari’s business strategies.

“What’s interesting in this journey is where we end up is not necessarily where we started. It is a journey, not a destination. It’s Robert Frost’s poem come to life on ‘The Road Not Taken.’ I think entrepreneurs’ dream is really ‘taking the ordinary into the extraordinary’ as we take ‘The Road Not Taken,'” Irizari said.