Four local businesses and organizations won a total of $200,000 in grants on Thursday evening through the second annual Mayor’s Prize for entrepreneurship.
The prize, funded by the Albuquerque Community Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, was launched last year to support local organizations that help build grass-roots innovation and entrepreneurship.
A panel of local and out-of-state judges chose nine finalists this year from 16 organizations that applied for the Mayor’s Prize. Awards went to four of them, including $59,000 for Central New Mexico Community College’s CNM Ingenuity program, $50,000 for the Creative Startups business accelerator, $50,000 for the Nusenda Credit Union Foundation’s Co-Op Capital Program, and $41,000 for the WESST business incubator’s Creative Practice, Innovation and Enterprise program.
The grants will reinforce initiatives that provide resources, training, mentorship and other assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs and startups in Albuquerque, said Mayor Berry before announcing the awards at a ceremony Downtown.
“We want to give people the opportunity to be economically mobile, to prosper in our community,” Berry said. “We want to provide the tools and resources they need to be self-reliant innovators.”
Recipients will use the grants to expand their programs:
CNM Ingenuity will make its FUSE Makerspace available to more innovators and entrepreneurs.
Creative Startups will devote its funds to its forthcoming Lobo Launch Labs, which offers 16-week entrepreneurial boot camps for students who want to commercialize novel technology or ideas but who need more preparation to move forward.
Nusenda will pump more funds into Co-Op Capital, which allows minority entrepreneurs who face difficulty accessing traditional lending sources to receive loans that are sponsored by community organizations.
WEST, which also won an $85,000 grant in the first Mayor’s Prize awards last year, will expand a program it launched with the 2015 award to assist creative businesses.
The Kauffman Foundation made a $200,000 donation last year for the Mayor’s Prize. The Albuquerque Community Foundation matched the Kauffman money to turn the funding into a permanent endowment to continue awarding grants every year.