Gov. unveils plan for $50M NM small business grant program - Albuquerque Journal

Gov. unveils plan for $50M NM small business grant program

A largely empty ABQ Uptown is shown in this April file photo. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration announced Monday plans to use federal stimulus dollars to launch a $50 million small business grant program. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Monday her administration will earmark $50 million in federal funds to set up a grant program for New Mexico small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The business aid program is part of the governor’s plan to divvy up $178 million in federal funds under a COVID-19 stimulus bill approved earlier this year.

Lujan Grisham vetoed a legislative plan to distribute some of the funds after a special session last month, saying it was up to her administration, not lawmakers, to determine how federal funds are spent.

“This unprecedented public health and economic crisis has caused a tremendous strain on local governments and on small businesses across our state,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

Specifically, she said the grant money would be available to support restaurants, retailers, and other types of small businesses around the state.

Under her plan, local governments around the state will be able to apply for $150 million in grants, with $50 million of that amount intended for small business grants that would be administered by cities and counties.

Debbie Romero, the acting secretary of the state Department of Finance and Administration, said Monday the agency’s scoring criteria for determining grant awards is still being crafted, but will likely take into account regional coronavirus impacts.

“The people who were more affected should expect to see more of the funds,” Romero told the Journal.

She also said it’s important the money be allocated in short order, as the federal funds will only be available to cover pandemic-related expenditures through Dec. 30.

“We don’t want to make it such a complicated process that we can’t get the money out quickly,” Romero said.

Meanwhile, the grant program is New Mexico’s latest attempt to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has caused hundreds of businesses to close and the state’s jobless rate to increase to 8.3%, as of last month.

Lawmakers also approved a bill during a special session last month to make low-interest loans to help small businesses and local governments. Money from the Severance Tax Permanent Fund would fund the loans – up to $400 million for businesses and $50 million for governments.

In addition, the State Investment Council in April approved a separate program that made $100 million from the permanent fund available for short-term loans for mid- to large-sized businesses.

Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, called the move “the best news I’ve read in a long, long time.”

Cole said it’s particularly important that recipients won’t need to pay back the funds.

“There are so many small businesses that are hanging on by a thread right now, so money by way of grants versus a loan will go a long way to strengthen the thread,” she said.

Rob Black, president and CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, agreed that the funding is good news for businesses, but said he’s concerned about what comes next: actually giving the money away.

“What I think is going to be a challenge is getting the money out quickly and equitably,” he said.

Black said local cities and counties will have to put forward applications to the state for funds, and will quickly decide how they want to prioritize what businesses they want to support and under what criteria.

“I think it’s yet to be determined how they’re going to make those decisions, and I’m worried that may take a while at the local level,” he said, adding that associations and chambers of commerce can help by taking on an educational role to make sure local government agencies and elected officials have accurate information about businesses in their communities.

In all, a solvency bill passed by the Legislature during last month’s special session relies on $750 million that New Mexico received under the federal CARES Act.

While top-ranking lawmakers say additional budget-balancing actions will likely be needed in January, the federal funds are being used – along with state cash reserves – to help the state absorb a projected $2 billion revenue decline for the budget year that began this month.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » Gov. unveils plan for $50M NM small business grant program

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

Ethics officer clears former CYFD officials
ABQnews Seeker
No personal benefit found in awarding ... No personal benefit found in awarding of no-bid contract to California firm
New grocery store approved near Rust Medical Center
ABQnews Seeker
The Rio Rancho Governing Board at ... The Rio Rancho Governing Board at its June 23 meeting approved site plans for Albertsons Market Street @ The Village near the new Presbyterian ...
APD IDs recent homicide victims
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives released the names of two ... Detectives released the names of two men killed in separate incidents over the past several days in Albuquerque. Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said ...
APD: Authorities arrest ‘primary' drug supplier to Coronado Park
ABQnews Seeker
Authorities arrested a man accused of ... Authorities arrested a man accused of supplying drugs at Coronado Park and the Ambassador Inn during an undercover operation carried out over the past ...
Rio Rancho company gets state, local funds to aid ...
ABQnews Seeker
Rio Rancho-based Deluxe Designs is getting ... Rio Rancho-based Deluxe Designs is getting help from state and local officials to aid in its manufac ...
Rio Communities to get new housing development
ABQnews Seeker
A new housing development is coming ... A new housing development is coming to Rio Communities, the first of its kind since the town was inc ...
Top New Mexico elections regulator says she was threatened
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's top elections regulator says ... New Mexico's top elections regulator says she received threats to her safety via an email and telephone calls to her offices and that the ...
APD detectives investigating after 2 found dead overnight
ABQnews Seeker
Two people were killed and a ... Two people were killed and a third person was injured early Wednesday morning in what police initially called a single-vehicle crash but later said ...
Rockets away in New Mexico
ABQnews Seeker
Teams from around the globe gather ... Teams from around the globe gather to compete in the Spaceport America Cup