City of Albuquerque launches “micro-business” relief program

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is infusing a half-million dollars into the city’s smallest businesses to help them survive the shutdowns associated with New Mexico’s COVID-19 ‘stay-at-home’ order.

Monday, Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department launched its “Micro-business Relief Program,” aimed at granting cash to some of the smallest of businesses in the city.

“This is something people have been asking us for,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said at a news conference announcing the program. “We know there are lots of loan programs out there– and that’s excellent, and we’ll talk about how to be in touch with those, but we know the gap really exists for our smallest local businesses, with respect to revenue loss, something that can be very difficult to deal with.”

Under the terms of the new program, businesses inside Albuquerque’s city limits with five or fewer employees are eligible to get up to $5,000 per business. That money doesn’t necessarily have to be paid back, either if the business follows the terms of the program.

According to the city, the grants will be given to businesses that are at least six months old and can prove they’ve been hurt by COVID-19-related closures or the state’s ‘stay-at-home’ order.

The grants won’t be available for any franchises or “18 and over” only businesses, like bars and smoke shops. Any business that gets the grant funds can only spend it on the business itself and has to write a report after six-months proving how the money was spent.

As of Monday afternoon, the city says at least 150 businesses have applied with the grant. program.

“This is an action that is necessary at this time, as Mayor (Keller) mentioned, as we look to stabilize the city’s economic and tax revenue base, the proposed program is a tangible benefit to the City of Albuquerque,” Jaramillo said.

The city says the program isn’t subject to the state’s “anti-donation” clause, in part because the program is being authorized under a new emergency declaration from the city. City officials also alluded to an argument Monday that since the money could help the business survive, the city is receiving a benefit in exchange for the cash.

“The city will not be providing benefits to small businesses as a donation or benefit without receiving comparable value in return,” Jaramillo said.

The city has $500,000 available for the program. At max, the program could help as many as 100 different micro-businesses.

For more information about the “micro-business relief program,” visit the City of Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department website.

The city is also planning to hold a “small business” webinar on Wednesday, April 1, about various COVID-19 business relief programs. For more information about that meeting visit the city’s website.

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