[Note: This article has been updated to clarify information about the funding request by Chaves County.]
Small business grants of $2.8 million requested
The city of Roswell has asked for $12.7 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding through the state to cover pandemic-related expenses and lost revenue, according to Administrative Services Director Juan Fuentes.
He said the city government funding request submitted Friday is in addition to a $2.8 million request for the Small Business Continuity Grant Program Plan. That plan was developed in partnership with the county and Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. after more than 100 local businesses filled out grant applications.
Fuentes explained that the city request includes losses and expenses starting in March and projected until the end of December.
“It is kind of broad, what some of the eligible expenses are, the reimbursements,” he said. “We are counting some of the GRT revenue, as well as some of our expenses that we have incurred, both personnel and operating.”
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He added that all lost revenues are considered, not only gross receipts taxes (GRT), but lodgers’ taxes, bed fees and the loss of revenues at city facilities such as the Recreation and Aquatic Center, the Convention & Civic Center, the Roswell Museum and Art Center and the Spring River Zoo.
“All of our facilities that obviously are not operating to the pre-COVID levels” were considered, he said.
The business grant applications did not ask companies to make a specific funding request, according to Michael Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. Instead, businesses were asked to report information such as 2019 and 2020 revenues, their receipt of other government assistance and the number of employees they had prior to the pandemic and now.
For that reason, neither the city or county knows how many business applicants will receive money or the caps on grants, if any.
“We don’t know how much money will be available, so it really will depend on how much money is awarded as to how many businesses we will be able to assist,” Fuentes said.
The state of New Mexico received $1.25 billion in federal CARES funding in March, with the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County entitled to $182.2 million of that.
On July 27, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she would be distributing up to $28 million to tribal governments and up to $150 million to municipal and county governments. Of the $150 million going to city and county governments, $50 million is reserved to aid small businesses in their areas.
Small businesses are defined as New Mexico-based enterprises with revenues of $2 million or less and 50 or fewer employees. Grant funds could be used to cover losses or expenses or to “redesign” the business to operate remotely or to comply with COVID-safe practices.
Bill Williams, Chaves County Public Services director, announced last week that the county has requested $1 million in funding that intends to use to aid small businesses.
While the county has experienced a $614,447 decrease in gross receipts taxes during 2020, he said, it is not requesting CARES or other federal reimbursements.
He also said that the county would like to receive enough funding to assist businesses in the Pecos Valley, as well as within the city limits.
Nora Meyers Sackett, press secretary for Lujan Grisham, said that the state has extended the original Aug. 7 deadline for local government applications and is still receiving funding requests. For that reason, information is not available yet on funding amounts asked for or the number of applications.
The state had said that it intended to make funding decisions within two weeks of the application deadline.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.