Emera Inc., the New Mexico Gas Co.’s parent firm, is pumping another $1 million into 34 groups to support entrepreneurial innovation and economic development throughout the state.
It’s Emera’s third round of grant giving since 2016, financed through a $5 million fund it established that year to support local economic development organizations, programs and initiatives over five years. That’s a commitment Emera made to the state Public Regulation Commission when it approved the company’s merger in 2016 with TECO Energy, the previous owner of New Mexico Gas, said utility President Ryan Shell.
“We continue to distribute awards across New Mexico to groups and organizations we believe promote growth and benefit our state,” Shell said in a statement. “These contributions will promote business growth, job creation and economic opportunities.”
The latest awards bring Emera donations to $3.5 million, including $1.5 million in 2016 and $1 million last year. The grants focus primarily on entrepreneurial innovation, educational initiatives and economic development programs, said New Mexico Gas Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Tom Domme.
“We define that very broadly to not just benefit formal economic development groups, but events and organizations that contribute to economic development,” Domme said. “That includes health, community, and arts and cultural groups.”
As in the past, the largest grants this year support technology transfer and entrepreneurship at higher education institutions, with five grants totaling $350,000:
— $100,000 for New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center;
— $75,000 for CNM Ingenuity, which manages Central New Mexico Community College’s commercial activities;
— $50,000 for New Mexico Tech;
— $50,000 for the University of New Mexico’s Innovation Academy; and
— $40,000 for San Juan College
Another $290,000 will go to 11 economic development groups, with grants ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 for organizations like Four Corners Economic Development, Albuquerque Economic Development and Clovis Industrial Development Corp.
Three other categories, including 19 organizations and programs, will share $405,000:
— $160,000 for six business incubators and accelerators
— $135,000 for five arts and cultural organizations
— $110,000 for eight health and community groups
Some beneficiaries are special events, such as $20,000 for next summer’s National Senior Games, which will be hosted here, said Mary Homan, the utility’s economic development/community affairs manager.
“It promotes health and quality of life and keeps seniors active while bringing millions of dollars to the state,” Homan said.
Grants are spread across New Mexico to benefit organizations statewide, Homan said. All money comes from Emera shareholders, so customer’s bills won’t be impacted.