Heinrich: $774K going to small business efforts - Albuquerque Journal

Heinrich: $774K going to small business efforts

Sen. Martin Heinrich shakes hands with Kerry Marler, director of operations of Etkie, at the WESST Enterprise Center in Albuquerque on Wednesday. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

New hires for an organization. Helping Native American artisans get their work on e-commerce sites. Those are just some of the areas in which small businesses organizations are planning to use federal money they received through the Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for fiscal year 2023.

At a Wednesday press conference, Sen. Martin Heinrich announced $774,000 for small business organizations — including WESST, the New Mexico Minority Business Development Agency Business Center and the New Mexico Small Business Development Center — to help with small business development, particularly in underserved communities.

“Each of these awards is important, but what it’s really about is it’s growing our economy in the state to fully take advantage of all the talent that we have, of all the entrepreneurship that we have and grow those to their potential,” Heinrich said. “And then our entire state really reaps the rewards of that.”

WESST, an organization that aids in business incubation, consulting, training and access to capital, received the largest slice of the federal funding, including $233,000 for the hiring of bilingual business trainers for a new center in Hobbs; $80,000 to hire a project manager for the organization’s Money Learning Lab; and $78,000 for a statewide director for its craft entrepreneurship initiatives.

Agnes Noonan, the president of WESST, said at Wednesday’s news conference that the money will help with the organization’s efforts in southeastern New Mexico.

“The demographics of Hobbs have changed incredibly,” Noonan said. “There are many … native speaking Spanish speakers who are looking for help, and we intend to provide it.”

The New Mexico Minority Business Development Agency Business Center, led by Gabriela Marques, received $200,000 to hire two full-time business advisers.

The New Mexico Small Business Development Center received $125,000 to help Native American business owners create their own e-commerce sites, and $58,000 for entrepreneurship training for incarcerated individuals.

Russell Wyrick, the state director for the NMSBDC, said it was the second consecutive fiscal year the organization had received federal funding for its initiatives.

“This e-commerce project funded for both fiscal years will help these artisans receive true value for their work rather than having to sell it at a super discounted (rate) and not reap the benefits,” Wyrick said.

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