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Economic Development District receives CARES funds

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Group also assisting governments applying for grants

The state economic development district representing the southeastern part of New Mexico has received $400,000 in federal relief money that will be used to help businesses and communities recover from the pandemic.

Dora Batista, executive director of the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District and Council of Governments, explained that the state’s six EDDs received $400,000 each of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding through the U.S. Department of Commerce. The awards were announced Thursday.

The money is due to be disbursed quarterly, and the funding is for a two-year period, she said.

Batista said that part of the funds will be used to provide technical assistance to governmental entities within its district that are applying for CARES grants on their own. The regional district — which represents 26 municipalities and counties in Chaves, Lea, Eddy, Lincoln and Otero counties — is also obligated to use the funds in three other ways as well, either through separate projects or in projects that combine the functions. Those three other goals are to develop a regional recovery plan that is compatible with the district’s approved comprehensive economic development strategy, to hire a disaster recovery coordinator to help develop and implement plans and recovery strategies, and to purchase technology and equipment that will enable the district to function effectively during the pandemic.

Batista said the district already has an approved comprehensive economic development strategy known as SET (Strong Economies Together) that the new coordinator will help update, as well as write the new recovery plan. The district also intends to use some of the $400,000 to upgrade telecommunications equipment, such as buying large screens or monitors and microphones, so that it can hold online meetings.

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She said that governmental entities in the district have been notified of the funding available directly for them, CARES Recovery Assistance Grants. The Commerce Department has made $1.5 billion available nationwide to communities, tribal entities, higher education and qualified nonprofits working in conjunction with a governmental unit. They can seek funding for several different type of pandemic-related prevention, preparation or response efforts, including public infrastructure projects.

Batista said that SNMEDD is assisting with seven or eight grant applications now, including one for the city of Roswell.

Scott Stark, Air Center Director, said that the city application is for a $3 million expansion to Hangar 84, now occupied by CAVU Aerospace. The expansion would allow the hangar to accommodate larger aircraft for maintenance work in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration standards. According to Stark and Batista, the pandemic has increased air freight demand worldwide, and CAVU and other companies provide maintenance for cargo and freight aircraft.

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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.