SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 30-day legislative session continues with a bill designed at giving a boost to New Mexico businesses. If approved, the bill would give preference to businesses here in the state-owned by veterans and Native Americans.

“I want to improve the opportunities for New Mexicans to buy or get bids on contracts that are awarded to the state,” said Rep. Harry Garcia, (D-District 69). “A lot of times, things come out and a lot of companies from out of state take over and the New Mexicans are left out.”

Story continues below

The Buy New Mexico bill was introduced on Thursday. It would increase the bidding preference to local businesses when the state is granted contracts to areas like infrastructure. “A highway construction project, those are millions of dollars, they go on, do big projects,” said Garcia. “And a lot of these big contracts are awarded to people from out of state.”

In turn, it would also keep those tax dollars and revenue in the state. Garcia, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, along with Sen. Benny Shendo, hopes this will also give businesses outside of the metro a chance at getting in on these often multi-million dollars contracts.

“Rural New Mexico is really struggling,” said Garcia. “It’s getting better but we’re really struggling and this will give an opportunity for rural communities to engage in contracts from the state.”

The bill would place a preference on businesses owned by veterans. It would also give preference to Native-owned companies, including those operating on tribal land.

“Support of local businesses, including tribally-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses, is just one of the many initiatives Governor Lujan Grisham and the Legislature are implementing to keep New Mexico’s economy growing,” said Santa Clara Pueblo Governor J. Michael Chavarria. “We thank Governor Lujan Grisham, Senator Shendo, and Senator Garcia for supporting legislation that creates equity for Native American-owned businesses in New Mexico.”

As the state continues to recover economically from the pandemic, Garcia hopes shining a light on locally-grown businesses will be just the boost owners need. “We all deserve the same opportunity to compete in bids coming out of New Mexico,” said Garcia.

This bill is expanded from a Buy New Mexico initiative launched by the governor in 2019, which resulted in a 9% increase in businesses registering with the state to be notified of upcoming contracts. It’s unclear when exactly the bill could make it to a vote.