- Local Covid-19 Updates, Information, and Resources
- Resources for Small Businesses/Workers
Resources for Small Businesses/Workers
The following links will direct you to resources available for businesses who have been impacted during COVID-19:
The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce has provided the following information as guidance for businesses as they reopen to the public:
Please find link attached to our new “LC Opens” tab in our COVID19 section of the Chamber’s website. Here you will find links to assist you as we continue to re-open businesses in Las Cruces & around the State. First, you will find the link to the State of NM COVID-Safe Practices for Individuals (dated May 28, 2020). Please remember it is important to abide by the COVID-Safe practices for all New Mexicans outlined on Page 7 of this booklet & the industries standards, also outlined in the booklet.
Second, is a link to the NM State Workforce department’s information for businesses reopening.
You will also find attached the Chamber’s information include the 5 Ways to Re-Open booklet and summary sheet. We remain diligent to provide the most current information to you as we continue to navigate this new journey.”
New Mexico Economic Development Department - https://gonm.biz/
Buy Local New Mexico - https://www.buynmlocal.com/
New Mexico Workforce Connection - www.jobs.state.nm.us
SBDC New Mexico - http://www.nmsbdc.org/
IEDC Restore Your Economy - https://restoreyoureconomy.org/
US Chamber of Commerce - https://www.uschamber.com/
The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce - https://www.lascruces.org/
The Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce - https://www.lascruceshispanicchamber.com/
Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce - https://locallascruces.com/
NMSU’s Arrowhead Center partners with City of Las Cruces to spotlight local businesses
Area business owners using new strategies to find customers during the COVID-19 pandemic are being featured in a program by New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center and the City of Las Cruces that will help shine a light on local businesses.
Business owners are invited to create a two-minute video that Arrowhead Center and the City of Las Cruces will share with their network of entrepreneurs, business peers and potential customers to show how businesses are transitioning in the face of economic challenges presented by the global pandemic.
“We’ve seen plenty of innovation and ingenuity from our local businesses,” said Kathryn Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center. “Some have quickly built a modified online brand to sell their products or have adapted their services to work in a virtual setting. Sharing how different businesses tackle getting in front their customers can inspire others who are trying to think through tactics to not only survive, but to thrive. The city is a key partner in spreading that message of resilience.”
Among the first businesses to be highlighted is Atom Bomb Studio, a custom tattoo and art studio located on North Campo Street. Their video may be viewed athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMadlkIS_jE.
“Arrowhead Center’s project highlights businesses as they share how they are adapting and an overall supportive message to the community,” said Mandy Guss, City of Las Cruces business development administrator. “We are excited to partner with Arrowhead to hear the stories of local success and to hear how our businesses encourage people to buy local.”
Videos in an MP4 format may be sent via email to Peter Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org. Videos must be two minutes or less and include:
• A greeting and introduction of yourself and your business.
• A message of support or encouragement.
• A strategy or insight you have for continuing or pivoting business operations.
Business owners are also asked to include website or social media links so that customers and advocates can locate businesses and share their message.
All videos will be posted on the Arrowhead Center YouTube Channel,
Due to high volume and demand, Arrowhead Center will accept and post videos on a first come, first served basis. The City of Las Cruces and Arrowhead Center reserve the right to remove or not share videos with any malicious or inappropriate content.
Retailers, businesses shall require employees to wear face coverings
Employers, public need to be prepared for reopening
SANTA FE— Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday urged business owners to begin preparing for the first phase of reopening New Mexico while the state continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Department of Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel has amended the state public health emergency order clarifying some of the steps businesses must take in order to operate.
- Beginning Wednesday, May 6, all large grocery and large retail spaces (those greater than 50,000 square feet in size) and all restaurants currently operating curbside and delivery service will be required to ensure that all employees have at least cloth face coverings.
- All employees must wear their face coverings in the workplace at all times when in the presence of others.
- Beginning Monday, May 11, all essential businesses of any size currently operating under the public health order must also comply with the face covering requirement.
- All employers are strongly encouraged to acquire the face coverings for all employees over the next week, in preparation for a potential Phase One reopening in mid-May. Otherwise, they may not be able to operate in compliance with state requirements.
- Retailers will not be required to provide face coverings for customers but are encouraged to post signage strongly encouraging customers to wear their own masks. Retailers at their own discretion may require customers to wear masks.
The administration last week issued a set of COVID-safe practices for all employers and an additional set for all retailers (see attached). Other COVID-safe requirements and best practices specific to other industries are under development.
The governor last week extended her stay-at-home order to May 15, with modifications allowing some limited, additional retail and recreational opportunities. Further reopening will depend on businesses and individuals doing their part to keep their neighbors safe in order to meet gating criteria.
“If New Mexicans don’t behave safely, we won’t be able to reopen more than we have. Every single one of us has to do their part,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
NMSU Career Services offers workshops on job hunting during COVID-19 pandemic
Navigating the job market while in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is no easy task, which is why New Mexico State University’s Career Services is hosting virtual workshops to help students job hunt during this new normal.
The 45-minute workshop will show students how to develop their brand, increase their skills through additional education and training that is being offered now at reduced or no cost, resources where they can identify employers who are still hiring and resources for remote or work from home options.
Roseanne Bensley, Career Services associate director, said these options could lead students to supplementary income that might be retained later as a nice alternative to on-site employment.
“A few short months ago, we touted record-low unemployment rates, soaring jobs numbers, and a booming U.S. economy. Open positions far outnumbered qualified candidates, and the only thing more difficult than recruiting great employees was retaining them,” Bensley said. “Employers will still need staff, so keep yourself in the pipeline and available when they start hiring again.”
The workshop schedule is:
• May 5 at 10 a.m.
• May 6 at 2 p.m.
• May 7 at 11 a.m.
• May 8 at 10 a.m.
To register, email email@example.com to receive the Zoom link.
“NMSU students and alumni are never left to fend for themselves,” Bensley said. “Answers to questions and assistance are always available through email and virtual resources.”
Résumés, cover letters, job search, interviewing and other career-related virtual student appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday via Handshake virtual appointments at https://nmsu.joinhandshake.com/login.
For more information or to make an appointment at alternate times, contact Career Services Associate Director Roseanne Bensley at 575-646-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notice: PPP Resumes April 27, 2020
The SBA will resume accepting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The PPP is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
For affiliation rules applicable for the Paycheck Protection Program, click here.
NEW LOCAL FUNDING AVAILABLE TO ASSIST RESIDENTS AND SMALL BUSINESSES WITH UTILITY BILLS
Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) encourages both residential customers and business owners looking for financial help with utility bills to call Customer Central at 575-541-2111 as quickly as possible. Local LCU representatives will assess your needs and find the best options for you or your business.
The funding is available thanks to Las Cruces City Council approving a $1.1 million economic relief measure in early April due to the Coronavirus pandemic. A portion of that relief funding goes to LCU to financially assist customers – whether residential or business - who have fallen behind on their payments or are about to.
“Local businesses have been particularly affected by the Stay at Home Emergency Order in effect in New Mexico,” said Jose Provencio, Las Cruces Utilities, deputy director Business Services. He explained the process will be new and LCU representatives will work with residents or businesses one-on-one and line up the assistance needed. LCU wants to work with customers, especially during these trying times; a simple phone call to Customer Central at 575-541-2111 starts the process.
Las Cruces Utilities can be contacted at 575-528-3500 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
Application for New Business Assistance Now Available SIC launches $100 million NM Recovery Fund
Applications are now available for a State of New Mexico emergency loan program to support larger businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 health emergency.
On April 7, the New Mexico State Investment Council unanimously approved guidelines for the New Mexico Recovery Fund, which will invest up to $100 million of the Severance Tax Permanent Fund in a short-term loan program, newly created for emergency business lending.
“As we battle this pandemic, we have to explore every avenue for both protecting public health and assuring economic relief for affected individuals and businesses,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “This is an important step, and we will, as a state, continue to advocate for and execute essential assistance programs.”
Businesses in New Mexico with 40 or more employees, which were credit-worthy prior to the pandemic, may apply for loans, starting at $500,000, with interest rates between 3% and 10%. The NM Recovery Fund is aimed at companies: with substantial negative impacts related to COVID-19; which demonstrate an intent to retain as many employees as possible over the life of the loan; and that will commit to spending at least 80% of loan proceeds in New Mexico (spending 100% of loan proceeds in New Mexico preferred).
The NM Recovery Fund is intended to complement federal loan programs like the CARES Act, as well as $25 million in new emergency small business loans being offered by the NM Small Business Investment Corporation.
The NM Recovery Fund will be managed by Sun Mountain Capital, a Santa Fe investment adviser. The application is a two-step process with businesses initially filing a short questionnaire to see if they meet qualifications. Once approved, a formal submission will be requested.
For additional questions and to begin the loan application process, please visit sunmountaincapital.com
“The new fund should provide some liquidity to businesses looking to maintain operations during this period of uncertainty,” State Investment Officer Steve Moise said. “The NM Recovery Fund will seek to fill a gap left by existing loan programs.”
The loans can also be a bridge to longer-term funding that is available from the U.S. Small Business Administration through the CARES Act and various state programs offered by the Economic Development Department.
Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been very aggressive in finding ways to help businesses that have closed or reduced operations during the health emergency.
“The state is looking to do everything we can to help the business through this crisis and save jobs,” Secretary Keyes said.
On March 12, Gov. Lujan Grisham authorized two assistance programs by the EDD. The COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Program works with lenders to help guarantee loans to businesses, making it easier for them to qualify. The second provides no-interest loans from the LEDA fund to economic base businesses.
For complete information about the business assistance programs, go the EDD website, GONM.biz
For comprehensive information about COVID-19 in the state go to NEWMEXICO.GOV.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich will be hosting a teleconference tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14 at 10 a.m. MT to help small business owners and nonprofit leaders access new funding included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The new law contains major provisions to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and its required public health responses.
Once you register, we will dial your phone at the beginning of the teleconference. You simply answer the call to join the live forum.
My goal is to help you navigate these new resources effectively so that you can focus on running your business and supporting your community. That is why I am working with the Small Business Administration, our Small Business Development Centers, and other partners to put together this forum where you will:
- Hear from issue area experts about the new programs available to your small business or nonprofit through the CARES Act including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
- Find out how to get connected to a local small business advisor.
- Learn about what resources are available to you and the processes for receiving support.
The lineup of speakers will include:
- U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
- N.M. Secretary of Workforce Solutions Bill McCamley
- John Garcia, District Director, Small Business Administration New Mexico District Office
- Russell Wyrick, Executive Director, New Mexico Small Business Development Center Network
- Daniel Schlegel, Small Business Advisor, Office of the Governor
Small businesses and nonprofits are the cornerstones of thriving communities across our state and need support now more than ever. The economic relief measures we passed in the CARES Act funds grants and loans from the Small Business Administration to provide essential support for New Mexico small businesses and nonprofits to keep their employees on payroll and meet their expenses. I am committed to holding the Trump administration accountable for delivering this much-needed relief to our state as soon as possible.
Please note that registration will close on Monday, April 13 at 5 p.m.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Heinrich’soffice by calling (202) 224-5521 or by visiting my website.
CASA DE PEREGRINOS IS RESPONDING TO THE COMMUNITY’S NEEDS AMIDST COVID-19 CRISIS
We are striving to better to serve Las Cruces and Dona Aña County during this COVID-19 crisis. The flagship food pantry located at 999 W. Amador Suite F in the Community of Hope campus, will be extending hours of operation to reach families that are being displaced by lay-offs or furloughs and are not able to get the food they need for their families. We appreciate your patience and compliance during these trying times for our community. Thank you.
Casa de Peregrinos Emergency Food Pantry is open. We have been making appropriate modifications to our operation in order to comply with (local, state and federal) recommendations and restrictions.
Distribution hours at our main site, 999 W. Amador Avenue Suite F, are effective as of Monday, April 13th, 2020 Monday 9:00 am - 11:30 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm Wednesday 9:00 am to 11:30 am and 1 pm - 3 pm Friday 9:00 am to 11:30 am and 1 pm - 5 pm
For frequent updates, please check our website and social media sites at www.casadeperegrinos.org and Facebook and Instagram
NMSU’s Arrowhead Center BizSprint Accelerator now earlier with focus on online marketing
WRITER: Cassie McClure, 575-312-3242, email@example.com
CONTACT: Isabella Pedicone, 575-646-5069, firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTACT: Dana DeRego Catron, 505-469-8411, email@example.com
Business innovation doesn’t stop during a crisis, and New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center wants to make sure that businesses have the marketing skills they need during the economic shifts created by COVID-19.
Arrowhead will be offering their popular BizSprint business accelerator program earlier this year to make sure New Mexico businesses know how to get themselves in front of a new targeted online audience.
Applications for the sprint are due April 17, and the cohort of businesses will start May 2.
“Arrowhead understands the challenges and hardships our New Mexico businesses are facing at this unprecedented time,” said Kathryn Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center. “We decided to run our popular BizSprint program earlier in the year, in the hope that participants will be able to apply what they learn in real time, pivoting their business to meet these challenges head-on. This cohort of BizSprint will include micro-grant funding and help them create a strong web presence.”
The eight-week accelerator program is designed to launch successful businesses in the State of New Mexico and offers participants micro-grants to accelerate their business, through funding from New Mexico Gas Company, an Emera Company. Teams do not need any prior NMSU affiliation to be considered.
“We are adding an additional marketing component this round,” said Del Mackey, Arrowhead Center senior economic development officer. “The hope is that these teams will look at a potential segment they never thought about – their online customers.”
BizSprint has funds available to set them up with a website domain, a website host, and work with them on creating that website, including logos and start-up content. The organizers will walk teams through online start-up issues such as:
– How to maximize their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for online searches.
– How to set up a digital brand and how to create an authentic business persona.
– How to use social media effectively and across different platforms.
“Businesses may not have considered that online piece yet and will need to figure out how to get that presence up fast,” said Mackey. “Given the current situation, this move toward a stronger digital footprint will likely be a ‘make-or-break’ piece for many companies.”
Mackey said, “BizSprint will also be valuable for those who are just starting an at-home business due to layoffs or furloughs.”
Each team will also receive access to additional follow-on funding through Arrowhead Innovation Fund and mentorship through Arrowhead Innovation Network Ventures. To learn more and apply, go to arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/bizsprint.
Udall, Heinrich Release Guide for Small Business Owners and Non-Profit Leaders to the CARES Act
Find the guide HERE
Coronavirus Relief Bill Provides $377 Billion in Small Business Aid, Up to $10 Million Each for Businesses and Non-profits Up to 500 Employees
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) released a guide to help small business owners and non-profit leaders access new funding included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that passed the Senate, House and was signed into law by the President last week. The CARES Act contains major provisions to provide relief to small businesses and non-profits hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and its required public health responses including $377 billion in small business aid.
The guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address the needs of business and non-profit leaders, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.
“Small businesses are the engines of New Mexico’s economy, but they are facing unprecedented challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, we fought hard to pass $377 billion in emergency funding to provide immediate relief to small businesses across the country. Now, I am focused on ensuring these resources get into the hands of small businesses and nonprofits in New Mexico so that they can continue to make payroll and cover their bills,” said Udall. “Our 150,000 small businesses in New Mexico are truly the heart of our economy –anchoring local communities, employing over 340,000 workers who work hard to support themselves and their families. They are understandably worried not just about the health and safety of their employees but also their ability to keep their doors open and lights on. I encourage New Mexico small businesses to take advantage of this emergency federal relief. I promise to do everything in my power to help our small business owners and non-profit leaders, their employees, and all New Mexicans during this trying time.”
“I am committed to supporting New Mexico’s small business owners throughout this crisis and working with them to rebuild thriving local economies across our state when this is over,” Heinrich said. “The economic relief measures we passed last week funds grants and loans from the Small Business Administration to provide essential support for New Mexico small businesses and nonprofits to keep their employees on payroll and meet their expenses. I encourage business owners to learn more about these sources of support and to contact my office if I can help you navigate the process to apply.”
To keep up to date on when these programs become available, please stay in contact with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) District Office, which you can locate here.
The full guide can be found HERE.
A breakdown of the small business provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act can be found HERE.
Together Las Cruces Relief Fund
The worldwide health pandemic of COVID-19 has impacted millions of families across the nation. The Las Cruces community has faced an economic downturn in response to state-mandated orders, and local tourism and hospitality service workers are among the largest group to feel the effect. Thanks to a group of local restauranteurs, business owners, and philanthropists, residents of Doña Ana county won’t be fighting this battle alone – Together Las Cruces is available to assist families during this time of need.https://www.communityfoundationofsouthernnewmexico.com/together-las-cruces/
The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions strives to be a leader in improving employment and poverty rates through workforce development, enhanced services for employers, and ensuring fair labor practices and workforce protections for New Mexicans. In this site, you can access career resources and services, apply or certify for Unemployment Insurance benefits find information about your legal rights as a worker, minimum wage, working as a teen, discrimination, and more. https://www.dws.state.nm.us/en-us/ A list of agency phone numbers is available here: https://www.dws.state.nm.us/Contact
The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Find more information on the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans at SBA.gov/Disaster. For inquiries about disaster loans, call 1-800-659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use a text telephone (TTY) by calling 1-800-877-8339.
The State of New Mexico is adjusting its business-loan guarantee programs in order to make capital more available to business owners whose operations are severely impacted by the COVID-19 health emergency.
The closure of businesses, cancellation of events, and the prohibition of large gatherings may result in individuals being dismissed or suspended from work through no fault of their own; certain workers may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce is closely monitoring this rapidly developing situation.
The Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce provides business programs and services that will expand and mature investments, job opportunities, education, community service, wellness, and activity in Las Cruces.
Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce: Fostering the success of local economies and promoting businesses committed to environmental and social responsibility.
State secures SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
for businesses affected by COVID-19
Small Business Administration offers loans up to $2M in all 33 counties
SANTA FE – The state of New Mexico has qualified for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance program to assist businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today.
The SBA is offering low-interest federal disaster loans up to $2M for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.
“We are dedicated to assisting every business that we can to endure the significant hardship this emergency has already caused,” Lujan Grisham said. “This SBA loan program is one of several tools to help businesses remain resilient and continue servicing their communities into the future.”
These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
“The economic well-being of all New Mexicans affected by this disaster is our number one priority,” Alicia J. Keyes, Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary, said. “We’re proud that New Mexico is one of the first states to announce the availability of this loan program statewide.”
The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
“I’m encouraged by the collaboration between New Mexico’s Economic Development Department and the SBA Disaster Team to rapidly make this recovery funding available to small businesses and nonprofits statewide,” SBA South Central Regional Administrator Justin Crossie said. “SBA joins a whole-of-government-effort to combat the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and minimize any economic disruption to New Mexico’s 155,000 small businesses, who employ more than half the state’s workforce.”
There are two ways to learn more and begin a loan application:
- Online by visiting the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance program at www.sba.gov.disaster.
- By phone at (800) 659-2955 or email at email@example.com.
Individuals who are hearing impaired may call (800) 877-8339.
If you elect to submit a hard-copy application, you may do so by mail to the following address:
U.S. Small Business Administration
Processing and Disbursement Center
14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155
For more information on SBA resources, including additional loan programs, please visit www.sba.gov.
For more general information on the state’s response to COVID-19 and additional resources for businesses and workers affected by the fallout, visit www.newmexico.gov.
Small businesses that consist of Barbers and Cosmetologists are not mandated to close unless the businesses is in an indoor mall.
Review Public Health Order in Effect as of March 19, 2020
Community Development Department Encourages Interactive Video Inspection
The City of Las Cruces Community Development Department has established standard operating procedures for interactive video inspection. In light of COVID-19 the Community Development Department encourages City residents to utilize Interactive Video Inspection.
Interactive Video Inspection is an alternative to on-site inspections that require prompt service, a follow up after an initial on-site inspection or schedule a more specific inspection time. Interactive Video Inspection uses a video call on a 4G smartphone or tablet in order to interact with the City inspector. People who want to use Interactive Video Inspection will need to install the free Google Duo app to be able to interface.
The process for Interactive Video Inspection is as follows:
- Schedule your Interactive Video Inspection.
- The City inspector will initiate the Interactive Video Inspection call to you at the time scheduled on your chosen platform, or app, and the inspector will walk you through the video call.
- The day after the inspection, results will be available on Accela.
- Small projects.
- Rooftop solar (photovoltaic projects).
- Electrical service upgrades.
- Electrical reconnects.
- Water heaters.
- Gas line installations.
- Parking shade structures.
- Detached storage sheds.
- Residential construction, except roof nailing and intermediates.
- Follow-up inspections (must verify with the inspector).
New inspection types are always being added. Ask your City inspector if your project qualifies. City residents and commercial builders should note that based on the size and/or the complexity of a project, it may not be possible to complete the inspection via Interactive Video Inspection. In that case, the remote City inspector will partially approve the inspection and make every effort to route a field City inspector to complete the inspection the same day. If this is not possible, the City inspector will schedule a field inspection for the next business day.
To learn more about Interactive Video Inspection, call the Community Development Department at 575/528-3043 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
New Mexico suspends home evictions, offers business loans
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court halted all housing evictions for failure to pay rent on Tuesday as health authorities began enforcing an order for people to stay home with few exceptions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Confirmed infections for COVID-19 reached 100, with new positive tests spread across seven counties, from the southern Las Cruces area to the counties along the Arizona state line that are home to large Native American populations.
At the same time, state investment authorities approved a credit line of up to $100 million to help businesses with 50 employees or more meet payroll obligations and avoid layoffs amid the economic turmoil from the contagion.
The actions took place as the state prohibited most gatherings of more than five people and shut down a variety of nonessential businesses where personnel cannot otherwise work from home.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said in a statement that temporary relief is needed to prevent evictions due to economic hardship as workplaces close down. Tenants hoping to avoid eviction must present evidence of their inability to pay rent to a judge.
New Mexico’s congressional delegation announced the release of $1.7 million in federal grant money to 16 community health centers across the state from an emergency spending package approved in early March.
The State Investment Council overseen by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham voted unanimously to channel assets from the state’s Severance Tax Permanent Fund toward economic recovery loans for medium-sized and large businesses.
The investment council oversees two multibillion-dollar endowments that support public education, other government services and infrastructure projects. The state already channels endowment funds toward small business loans through the Small Business Investment Corporation.
Lujan Grisham emphasized the importance of providing financial support to the hospitality industry and others companies in “dire straits,” as business revenues plummet ahead of the summer tourism season. The investment council met by teleconference as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
Some council members objected to offering emergency loans to employers who are headquartered outside the state and worried that interest rates may be pegged too high — or that $100 million might not satisfy demands. Many details of the program will be voted on separately in coming weeks.
Larger diversions from the Severance Tax Permanent Fund or Land Grant Permanent Fund require a state constitutional amendment that involves approval by the Legislature and a statewide vote.
“I don’t think it’s enough, I think it’s a start,” said State Treasurer and commission member Tim Eichenberg, who argued for low rates of interest on recovery loans. “If we just break even, we’ve done a service to the people of New Mexico.”
In another sign of strained public finances, total assets overseen by the State Investment Council fell to just under $24 billion this week from about $28 billion in January as financial markets reeled from the COVID-19 pandemic.