State approves $100M in grants for New Mexico small businesses

Coronavirus New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the $330 million relief bill Wednesday. It will help people who are out of work, as well as struggling New Mexico small businesses. Millions of dollars are now going into their pockets — with no repayment needed — at a time when many businesses are closed at their busiest time of year.

Unlike much of the financial help that was offered earlier this year, the relief passed through the New Mexico legislature Tuesday are specific grants for small businesses. Local leaders hope they will provide some peace of mind for business owners in need.

“A lot of businesses are not in a position to take on any debt. They’re hanging on by a thread so these grants as opposed to loans, it’s very very important,” said Scott Darnell with the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. “It’s funding that will save jobs in the short-run, will save businesses in the short-run, and provide them the ability to transition into a post-pandemic economy.”

Eligible businesses that have 100 or fewer employees can apply for the grants, receiving up to $50,000. The state says priority will be given to some of the industries hit the hardest, like leisure, hospitality, and tourism. Some locals hope in the future, help can be offered for New Mexico businesses that maybe have more employees and don’t qualify for this grant.

“I know some of the hotels are bigger than 100 employees that could use this help, so I’m kind of sad for them. At the same time, I’m just glad that some money is coming to the industries that need it most,” said Ernie C’deBaca with the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of these businesses, they’ve been around a long time. They’ve done everything right. They have great customers, they have great employees. Something totally out of their control could bankrupt them, could drive them out of business. What they were expecting to do with their restaurant perhaps is sell it down the road and that’s their retirement,” C’deBaca continued. “All of that is in danger, so this helps. It shores the time, it bridges the gap to when they can get back and do what they do best.”

The New Mexico Finance Authority is taking public input on how to give out the grants, including the amounts provided to businesses, what severe economic impact entails, and how it can be dispersed equally and geographically. In the coming weeks, they plan to release the money via direct deposit.

“There’s only $100 million which is a lot of money but there are a number of businesses that are in need. We’re trying to balance all of those issues right now,” said Marquita Russel with the New Mexico Finance Authority.

“We want to break it up into at least three different phases separated by a couple of days so that we are able to ensure that applicants have time, businesses know the money is available and how to qualify for it,” Russel continued. “They will be going directly to bank accounts. We’re not going to be issuing checks so folks will need to have a bank account established before they’re able to apply for the funds.”

Earlier today, Gov. Lujan Grisham signed the relief package ‘House Bill 1’ into law. It takes effect immediately.

The New Mexico Finance Authority hopes to have application criteria in place by next week and applications open for the grants by the week of Dec. 7. Around $100 million of the $330 million relief program is set aside for small businesses.

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