The level of perseverance demonstrated by small-business owners throughout Sandoval County this past year defined the key aspects of best operating practices.

Every day, new challenges were met head-on by and large by small businesses in the county. The strategy now remains focused on economic recovery and moving forward.

Efforts to ensure safety protocols by community and businesses alike will only build on the comfort levels in place to ensure a strong state and local recovery.

As we all try to get back to a new normal, given the restrictions of the past year, it is important to take stock of what matters most to our small-business owners.

These business owners learned first-hand how to manage change and truly served our communities throughout a most challenging time.

Of course, there have also been heartbreaking losses. Every business owner has been affected by drops in revenue, furloughs and downsizing. Some businesses had to make the difficult decision to close permanently.

From a county’s standpoint, there is nothing more important than trying to get local businesses back up and running. It’s for this very reason that Sandoval County has set aside $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help businesses pick up and recover.

Sandoval County Economic Development Director Dora Dominguez

It is important to note that the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration and the governor’s office released $965,000 in Small Business Continuity Grant funds to Sandoval County last fall.

Sandoval County awarded all of these grant funds and is now picking up where the CARES Act funding left off with the second round of grants.

Our priority is to fund up to $20,000 to businesses that applied for the CARES Act funding last year and didn’t receive it due to lack of money available.
These applications county-wide will be first on the county’s list of businesses to obtain new grant funding.

Businesses that haven’t yet applied will be able to do so beginning Monday. Grant applications will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis and must meet qualifications for funding.

ARPA funds can only be used to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures or reduced operations, provided those costs were not paid by insurance or by another federal, state or local program.

Once open for new applications, the program will also be able to qualify applications with requests that exceed the established $20,000 limit.

These applications will be considered “extraordinary requests” and will require approval by the Board of County Commissioners.

We hope we see an upswing in our local economy by utilizing a portion of these ARPA funds to help stabilize local businesses. It’s initiatives like this that give the future of Sandoval County a brighter outlook.

(Dora Dominguez is the Sandoval County economic development director.)