State infuses cash into ‘memorial stones’ startup - Albuquerque Journal

State infuses cash into ‘memorial stones’ startup

In this 2019 photo, Justin Crowe, president of Parting Stone, holds a person’s remains that his company turned into solidified remains. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — A New Mexico company that transforms cremated human remains into memorial stones is set to expand its workforce from 20 to more than 100 employees as part of a $175,000 economic development grant.

Parting Stone — a startup based in Santa Fe — harnesses proprietary technology developed with help from Los Alamos National Laboratory to create “solidified remains” that resemble a collection of smooth stones. It already works with 600 funeral homes throughout the United States and Canada.

Under a five-year agreement, the company is set to receive $150,000 from the state Economic Development Department and $25,000 from the city of Santa Fe to reimburse the cost of building improvements at its site on the South Side of Santa Fe.

Parting Stone will add 89 employees, bringing its workforce to 109 people. The average salary will be $48,000.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat seeking reelection this year, joined city and state officials for the announcement Wednesday.

She spoke about the unexpected death of her husband, Gregory, in 2004 and the difficulty of deciding what to do with his cremated remains. The family eventually had some of the remains turned into gems, but the governor suggested the family would have benefited from more options.

“This is a powerful, meaningful, affordable choice for families,” Lujan Grisham said of Parting Stone.

The financial incentives come as New Mexico pushes to bring down its unemployment rate — 4.9% in June, higher than any other state.

Local governments and the state are empowered to support job creation through grants awarded under the Local Economic Development Act.

Justin Crowe, founder and CEO of Parting Stone, said the idea for the company came after the death of his grandfather in 2014. The stones, he said, are better for the environment than spreading ash outdoors, and they provide something beautiful that people can hold or display.

At its lab in Santa Fe, the company accepts ashes and solidifies them into solid, stone-like remains. About 40 to 60 stones are created for an adult, at a price of $995. They vary in shape, color and texture.

The company has less-expensive options for the cremated remains of dogs and cats.

Economic development programs and financial help, Crowe said, have helped the company grow quickly.

“Without the support we’ve received from the New Mexico business ecosystem,” he said, “we wouldn’t be here today.”

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