New Mexico Distributes $100 Million in CARES Act Funds

On January 1, the New Mexico Finance Authority reported that it distributed $100 million in grants on December 31. Those grants will go to 6,642 small businesses in the state. The funds complete the CARES Act funding that the New Mexico legislature authorized in November during its special session. The CARES Act funds had to be distributed by December 31.

About the Grants to Small Businesses in New Mexico

According to the New Mexico Finance Authority, the $100 million in grant funds were part of the allotment the state received from the federal CARES Act stimulus package. The state received $319 million in financial assistance. The grants are for small businesses and industries in the state of New Mexico that are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Businesses Applied for the Grants

The application period for this round of grant funding was December 7 through 18. The New Mexico Finance Authority received 14,125 grant applications. The total amount of funds requested was $156 million. According to the New Mexico Finance Authority, it was able to provide 60% of the grants to businesses in urban areas and 40% of the grants to businesses located in rural areas of the state. The applications were online. Business owners had to submit receipts, tax information and proof of how their business has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

Types of Businesses Awarded Grant Funding

A wide range of businesses received some of these grants. The industries included retail stores, manufacturers, accounting firms, restaurants, hotels and nonprofit organizations. The businesses are located in both rural communities as well as urban areas. The grant amounts ranged from $2,000 to $50,000. The average grant value was $15,000.

Eligibility Requirements for the New Mexico Small Business Grants

To be eligible for one of these New Mexico small business grants, the business could have no more than 100 employees. It had to demonstrate financial hardship. The New Mexico Finance Authority's spokesperson explained that it received applications over three rounds of funding. Priority was given to businesses suffering from the most severe economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Special consideration was also given to entire industries that have been challenged by the economic conditions triggered by the pandemic. Those industries included restaurants, bars and hotels. Other tourism and hospitality-based businesses were also given priority for the grant funding.

Business Owners Thankful But Say More Is Needed

Several business owners who received grant funding were thankful for the assistance. One said that it will make the difference between staying open and shutting down for good. Another small business owner said that the funding would help them maintain payroll for their employees. Another noted that they took a pay cut in order to reduce the number of employees they had to furlough, and this funding would provide some relief. However, all of the business owners who offered comments said that much more is needed. Political fighting has resulted in less funding than small business owners had hoped for in the latest relief package that was passed by the House of Representatives late last month. Small business owners explain that while a few thousand dollars helps, it won't solve the full spectrum of their financial challenges.

Business Owners Face an Uncertain Future

Although two COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for emergency use as of January 1, less than 1% of the American population has been vaccinated so far. At the current rate of vaccination in the United States, it will take more than eight years to innoculate every citizen who wants a vaccine and can receive one. If the pandemic gets worse, the vaccines underperform or another crisis happens before the pandemic ends, many of these business owners may have to shut down on a permanent basis.

Consumers Are Also Uncertain

Consumers have cut back on their spending, and the reduced spending is also impacting business owners. Even if a small business owner was able to shift to online sales, take-out or delivery services, most of them have noted a net decrease in total sales when comparing same-month sales in 2020 to 2019. Many people lost their jobs. While 12 million of the 22 million lost jobs have been recovered, there are 10 million fewer workers now than in February 2020. Many people are still fearful that they could lose their jobs, have their hours cut or be forced to accept a cut in pay. Low consumer sentiment leads to lower spending.

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