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City Continues Support for Local Businesses During COVID-19 Recovery

Mask-making contract, fee waivers for small businesses, and investments boost local workers, companies, families

June 25, 2020

At a Thursday briefing on the City’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing efforts of Mayor Tim Keller’s administration to support local workers and businesses, the mayor announced three updates targeted at supporting the local economy and speeding the recovery from the global health crisis.

They include a contract with local non-profit Southwest Creations Collaborative to make masks in support of the City’s essential workers. Like many local companies, Southwest Creations shifted their operations to support the community and meet the increased demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) created by the pandemic. The contract is critical to the City’s ability to continue providing essential services including childcare, transit, and public safety.

Maude Andrade, Production and Sales Assistant at Southwest Creations Collaborative, said, “The making of these masks has kept everyone at Southwest Creations employed through COVID-19, and the women that we employ are from low-income communities and have the same issues with childcare, which we do offer with an on-site daycare. We are eternally grateful to the Mayor and Lawrence Rael for helping us move our masks out into the community, connect us to the community. We will continue to make the masks, which have become a key product for us.”

Mayor Keller also announced that in addition to waiving fees on restaurants working to add outdoor seating capacity as a way to get diners back quickly and safely, the City will also waive fees for inspections on commercial swimming pools, restaurant inspections, food trucks permits, and growers market permits.

“We know local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and anything we can do to relieve some of that pressure is worth doing, especially at a time when margins are tight and many local businesses are making tough decisions about keeping or laying off workers,” said Mayor Keller.

The City is also automatically refunding any businesses that have already paid permit fees for calendar year 2020.

Finally, Mayor Keller announced a half million-dollar investment in one of the fundamental services underpinning Albuquerque’s economic success: childcare and early childhood education. These funds, from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will support the City’s efforts to help workers get training and connect them to local small businesses in essential sectors, speeding up the COVID-19 economic recovery.

The Economic Development Department will place a special focus on the Early Childhood Education and Care workforce, which emerged as “essential” during the pandemic, and where businesses are largely owned, operated, and staffed by women of color. With all of Albuquerque—and the world—realizing what it takes to deliver high-quality early childhood education and care, and how important that care is to the rest of the economy, the City will add an Early Childhood Education Navigator to assist the new Workforce Development Liaison in constructing pathways to good jobs for childcare professionals.

“This grant will boost our efforts to weave equity into all aspects of our city and to build an economy that works for everyone, which matters now more than ever. With a dedicated Workforce Development Liaison at our Small Business Office, we’ll be able to provide opportunities for low-income folks to get training and placement with good jobs,” said Mayor Keller. “During these challenging times, we need programs like these to play a role in helping workers and businesses recover.”