In a spirited kickoff to her district-wide small business tour, U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury emphasized her commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs and unveiled legislative plans aimed at bolstering economic development across Rio Rancho, Albuquerque and rural areas in New Mexico.

Stansbury was in Rio Rancho on Jan. 24 to enjoy lunch and Lily and Liam Bistro, owned by Rio Rancho’s James and Megan Garrigan, and highlight her dedication to listening to constituents’ dreams and hopes. Drawing on her personal background, Stansbury underscored the importance of small businesses, having grown up with a family deeply involved in mom-and-pop enterprises, including a landscaping business and a seamstress shop.

“When we’re out and about in the community, we try to make sure that we support our local businesses along the way and talk to local business owners because that’s part of our job,” Stansbury said.

Stansbury has represented  New Mexico’s 1st congressional district, which includes Rio Rancho, Bernalillo and Corrales,  since 2021. Since taking office, Stansbury has engaged in roundtable discussions with small business owners, particularly those in the restaurant industry. She acknowledged the ongoing challenges faced by these businesses, including issues with hiring staff, pandemic-related debts and supply chain disruptions.

To address these challenges, the congresswoman detailed various initiatives her office is undertaking. This includes leveraging the Small Business Administration (SBA) for grant and loan programs, assisting with federal agency-related issues, and spearheading efforts in local economic development and revitalization.

“We have an amazing casework team that helps individuals struggling, whether they are business owners or workers, to identify opportunities through SBA and other grant and loan programs,” Stansbury said.

Stansbury said the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law in November 2021 will invest in broadband growth and overall infrastructure development over the next decade.

“We also have a number of different broadband bills aimed at addressing the digital divide in business, education and health care,” Stansbury said.

Stansbury also emphasized supporting businesses directly through initiatives such as the Raise the Wage Act and legislation to boost American manufacturing, particularly in high-tech sectors. She cited the Chips Act, a significant domestic manufacturing bill passed in August 2022, as a means to bring high-tech manufacturing back to the U.S. and create jobs.

When asked about the challenges faced by small businesses in New Mexico, she acknowledged the state’s entrepreneurial spirit but emphasized the need to build a supportive ecosystem. She outlined plans to retain local talent by addressing issues such as access to capital and regulatory hurdles.

“In New Mexico, we have a lot of go-getters. Entrepreneurialism is in our blood,” Stansbury said. “The challenge is how to retain that talent and grow it right here.”