New Mexico Small Business Owners Want To Apply For Aid | Legislator | Legislative session in New Mexico

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Melanie Boudar was conjuring up fresh chocolates and sweets to take away for customers in her local shop, Art of Chocolate / Cacao Santa Fe, when she heard the good news.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill on Wednesday that would allow the state to use federal funds from the CARES Act to provide economic aid to New Mexico residents and businesses affected by the effects of COVID-19 .

Part of this agreement is $ 100 million in grants, capped at $ 50,000 each, for small business owned by nationals. To qualify, a company must not have more than 100 employees and must be in an economic emergency due to the pandemic.

Boudar’s business has lost more than half of its sales and three of its employees this year. She hopes the state aid package will make ends meet.

“We are excited. We will definitely apply for it, ”she said. “We just have to know how it works.”

Several Santa Fe business owners were hoping to benefit from the pandemic relief bill that New Mexico lawmakers passed in a special session Tuesday.

The big questions they asked were: How will the application process work and when will the scholarships be available?

The New Mexico Finance Authority, which will manage the small business grant fund, worked on these details Wednesday, said the agency’s CEO Marquita Russel.

The bill has tight parameters for managing the grant program, she said – such as prioritizing small businesses in the hotel and leisure industries and ensuring an equitable distribution of funds across the state.

The authority must establish such guidelines for the application process.

“We’re not sure how it’ll work yet,” said Russell. “The legislature has given us some general priorities, so we are in the process of developing the guidelines to achieve the policy objectives of the bill.”

However, she said the agency plans to make an application available online sometime during the week of December 7th. The approval process will be built in three rounds and the grants will be awarded before the end of 2020, she said.

“We don’t want it to be a first come, first served,” Russel said, adding, “$ 100 million is a lot of money, but it will still only serve a small fraction of the businesses in need. ”

State lawmakers and industry leaders have been looking for ways to cope with the financial strain the pandemic has on small businesses since it began in March.

A number of stores in the Santa Fe area, including Il Piatto Restaurant, Dynamic Fitness, and Todos Santos Chocolates and Confections, have since closed.

Others hardly hold out.

Roland Richter, who runs Joe’s Diner on Rodeo Road, fired his cook and took over the cooking tasks himself to save costs. Richter has laid off at least 10 employees since the pandemic began, he said on Wednesday.

“Things are going to be very, very thin right now,” he said as he prepared Thanksgiving dinner for pickup.

While waiting for the details of the funding guidelines, he said he plans to apply for the full amount. Richter received aid from the state paycheck protection program earlier this year, but those funds ran out a month ago. A $ 50,000 grant from the state would “keep me going for the next three or four months and help pay my employees,” he said.

Dolores Rios, manager of nearly 50-year-old Ben’s Automotive Services on Fifth Street, said her business also plans to apply for a grant to “help us with payroll.” Your company’s federal government PPP funds have also been used up.

Rios said the auto repair shop has seen a roughly 40 percent decline in business – and layoffs of two employees – since March.

“Many are reluctant to spend money,” she says. The SME grant “could make a big difference for us and really help”.

Along with small businesses, the legislation creating the grant program allows the state to distribute the money to nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, and charities.

Recipients don’t have to repay the funds like they would with a loan program, Russel said, but it does come with a few conditions.

“We want to make sure that the money is used for its intended purpose,” she said. “We hope it will be a lifeline for companies affected by the pandemic.”

Russel said anyone interested in commenting on details of the application process can post online comments on the agency’s website until Saturday. nmfinance.com.

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