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Keller Administration Announces New $7.5 Million Grant Program for Small Businesses

ARPA-funded grants will provide assistance to Albuquerque businesses and startups

July 28, 2021

Today, Mayor Tim Keller and the City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department (EDD) announced the Small Business + Entrepreneurial Recovery Grant Program—a new economic relief grant program available to local small businesses and non-profits. The $7.5 million program will be funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Applications will open August 4 for the one-time $10,000 grants for businesses within Albuquerque city limits that have 50 employees or fewer, and meet other grant criteria.

“Last year was devastating for our small businesses. Our goal was to do anything and everything we could to support them and keep the bottom from falling out of the economy, including providing nearly $12 million in support through grants and free PPE,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “While we are making significant gains toward recovery, we know that things don’t turn around overnight for small businesses and we can’t turn our backs on them now. It’s time to double-down our commitment to the small businesses community so Albuquerque can emerge stronger than ever.”

The Small Business + Entrepreneurial Recovery Grant Program is available to Albuquerque small businesses in the following categories:

  • Family-Owned Business Grants
  • Mainstreet Business Grants
  • Hotels & Public Safety Grants
  • Arts & Entertainment Grants
  • Youth & Education Grants
  • Entrepreneurial & Start-Up Grants

In order for businesses to be eligible for Small Business + Entrepreneurial Recovery Grants, a business must have no more than 50 full-time employees including the owner (two part-time employees will be equivalent to one full-time employee); been in business on or before July 1, 2021; have a current and valid City of Albuquerque business registration license; be located within Albuquerque city limits; among other requirements. Businesses that previously received Covid-19 relief funds from other state, county, or municipal sources will still be able to receive funding.

“We’re thankful to the Keller Administration for allocating these funds for Albuquerque’s small businesses and the families that own, operate, and work at them,” said EDD Director Synthia R. Jaramillo. “These grants will aid in our City’s economic recovery, in addition to the robust programs and services we offer to local small businesses.”

Early in the pandemic, the City offered $750,000 in direct business support grants to 150 local businesses with the help of the One Albuquerque Fund, even before CARES Act funding was available. In addition, the City utilized nearly $1 million dollars to purchase locally-sourced PPE, specifically for small businesses. The Keller administration waived more than $1 million in fees on small businesses for 2020, and by fast-tracking construction projects, the City invested $120 million to ensure local construction workers continued to earn a paycheck. More than 104 local restaurants received $364,500 in grants to expand outdoor seating, and the City invested nearly $100,000 into supporting local food businesses in Outdoor Food Truck Courts and Growers Markets.

“Keeping a small business alive is a difficult task. Restaurants in particular have had great challenges, and we thank the community for continuing to support small businesses,” said Mona Ghattas, owner and president of Duran’s Central Pharmacy. “The $10K grant from the City during last fall’s lockdown was very much appreciated, and we recognize all the help that the City of Albuquerque provided during COVID, especially the quick permits for outdoor eating.”

Upon successful completion of the application, grantees will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis unless the grants are oversubscribed. Interested businesses may apply online beginning August 4, 2021, at Paper applications will also be available for business owners who cannot access the online system. The application will be available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

The City also continues working with businesses through the Planning Department going into recovery.

To the greatest extent possible, the Planning Department tried to keep operations “business as usual” during the COVID pandemic. Because in-person exchanges weren’t an option, the department developed a rudimentary, but successful drop-box process allowing for the delivery of documents, drawings and plans in the foyer of the building. It also saw an increase in paperless submittals during this time period. This is an option originally implemented by the department in January, 2019 that allows permit requests to be made through its electronic plan system without requiring applicants to come downtown to complete the process.

Now that department offices in the Plaza del Sol Building are open, customers can once again hand off plans and applications directly to Planning staff members or opt to use the department’s paperless process.

With regard to any changes in permitting during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Planning Department began using a program of “virtual inspections” for a limited number of straightforward inspection types. This process utilizes cell phones and personal camera devices used by a contractor to show an inspector the work that has been completed. The inspector is able to confirm that the associated work has been completed according to code. This pilot program has proven not only to be a timesaver, but also reduced the amount of wait time for inspections. And while it didn’t change the volume of inspections, it certainly allowed inspectors to get to them in a more-timely fashion.

Now that the city has reopened to normal function, Planning inspectors will use a hybrid inspection process. If it is helpful to an owner or contractor by doing an inspection using real time video, they will. However, the vast majority of inspections will continue to be done in person.