Home News COVID-19 Situation CARES Act grants to aid local businesses

CARES Act grants to aid local businesses

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City Manager Joe Neeb, right, at a November 2019 city meeting. (Daily Record File Photo)

Local businesses will receive information within a few days about how they can apply for grants through the city and the county to help them function during the pandemic.

The money for local governments and businesses is available from an allocation of funds to the state of New Mexico by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

City Manager Joe Neeb said that city employees will meet Thursday with staff of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. to discuss how to manage the business grants portion of the city application. But he added that the actual grants process is expected to be handled by city staff.

“The city will designate a contact department/person to assist in answering questions and helping the businesses to fill out the application form,” Neeb said.

County Manager Stanton Riggs said the county also will submit an application, especially because it wants to help businesses.

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“We are looking to see what we can do for the small businesses in the county,” he said. “We are probably looking at the unincorporated areas.”

He added that businesses in the Pecos Valley area also might be able to be assisted, and that the county will work with the local Economic Development Corp.

An announcement Monday from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office indicated that $28 million in CARES funding is available for tribal governments and $150 million for county and city governments.

Of the allocation for county and city governments, $50 million is designated for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees and $2 million or less in annual revenues.

Small business continuity grants cover such items as rent or mortgages, payroll, utilities and insurance. The business grant application documents also indicated that “redesign” funds are available to cover costs associated with purchasing or installing safety equipment or buying teleconferencing equipment.

Tribal governments received applications July 10 due back Wednesday, with funding decisions expected within 10 days of that.

City and county governments received their packets of information July 27. They must submit their own funding requests and their small business continuity grant program plan by Aug. 7. Money is expected to be awarded by Aug. 21.

“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 her announcement. “In particular, I am pleased that this grant money is available to support restaurants, retailers and other small businesses in New Mexico that have been impacted by the emergency.”

Neither Riggs nor Neeb provided an estimate on how much money the local governments will request, if any. The documents provided by the state indicate that funds for governments can be used to reimburse qualified expenses, but not to cover revenue shortfalls.

Riggs said that information would be shared with businesses about the process by early next week.

CARES is the federal relief package passed by Congress and signed into law in March. According to information on the U.S. Treasury Department website, New Mexico received $1.25 billion in funding, with the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County certified to receive their own funding, which amounts to about $182.2 million of the New Mexico total.

The Treasury Department also published a guidance document about what qualifies for funding reimbursements. For local governments, it includes such items as public safety and correctional center costs; expenses related to medical materials and services; payroll costs for employees whose work relates to the pandemic or for those who took sick leave; housing, food and child care provided to residents because of the pandemic; and distance-learning costs incurred by schools.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.