Home News Local News Chaves County businesses get $2.76 million in relief grants

Chaves County businesses get $2.76 million in relief grants

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Most businesses awarded money through a $100 million state CARES small business continuity grant program already have the money in hand, according to Marquita Russel.

Russel is chief executive officer of the New Mexico Finance Authority, which is administering the grant program established by the New Mexico Legislature during a November 2020 special session.

The money came from a portion of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act allotment provided to the state of New Mexico. The state grant program is known as the Small Business CARES Relief Grant Program.

Russel said that at least $90 million of the money already has been distributed and that the remaining $10 million should be in business owners’ hands once final grant documents have been turned in. The grant program was open from early December to Dec. 18.

Russel said that the financial need far exceeded the funds available.

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“We had so many applications, much more than we anticipated,” she said. “In the first three days, we had nearly $98 million in requests, $98.6 million in the first 72 hours. … There were a number of very worthy businesses that did not get funding.”

According to information posted by the Finance Authority, 14,125 small businesses applied for money, requesting $156 million to cover coronavirus-related expenses or losses. Businesses with 100 or fewer employees and that were at least 51% owned by New Mexico residents were eligible. Other criteria also existed. As grants, the funds do not have to be repaid.

The largest funded amount was $50,000, which was the cap established by the legislation. The smallest was $2,000, and the average was $15,000.

The agency was able to fund 6,642 businesses, with 60% provided to businesses in urban areas and 40% to rural businesses.

Russel said that 183 grants were given to businesses in Chaves County for a total of $2,763,000. That would set the average grant awarded in the local area at about $15,098.

As was true for the state as a whole, the need in the local area was much greater than what could be funded. Chaves County had a total of 405 applications, requesting $4.92 million in grants.

Russel said that additional federal monies would have to be made available to the state for any similar program in the future because the New Mexico Constitution does not allow state funds to be used for business grants.

“We have a great deal of information about who we were not able to help, the kinds of businesses that got left out of this process,” Russel said, “so we would love to share that with the policymakers should money become available.”

She said the agency had “overwhelming” demand from companies that did not have employees who were not also people with ownership stakes in the companies or organizations.

“There is a need to fill that specific niche of businesses,” Russel said. “I think they have largely had difficulty accessing funding.”

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