The Chamber is backing a proposal that will be in front of the City Council TONIGHT to use federal Coronavirus relief money from the CARES Act to award up to $10 million in recovery grants for Albuquerque small businesses.
City Councilors Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones, pictured above, are seeking to make $10 million in grants available to businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees that are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds, available on a lottery basis, would help “offset business losses for expenses such as, but not limited to, payroll, rent, utilities, inventory, or other necessary business expenses; or other direct business losses due to destabilizing events associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The City received $150 million in federal coronavirus relief funding back in April and has spent about one-third of it so far. With assistance from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) expiring, now is an ideal time for local and state governments to step in and continue to help keep workers employed and businesses operating over the next several months.
Bernalillo County’s July unemployment rate was 13.0%; the state’s unemployment rate broke records that same month when it reached 12.7%, the highest since state tracking started in the 1970s. State Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley attributed the spike to spring furloughs that became permanent layoffs when businesses’ circumstances had not improved by the end of the fiscal year – and neither had their outlook. Assistance like the proposed grants could strengthen small businesses and help them avoid furloughs, layoffs, and cuts to employees’ hours.
The Chamber sent a letter yesterday urging the Mayor and the Council to support the $10 million in small business grants being proposed by Councilors Jones and Bassan. “Small business grants are a reasonable, responsible, and intended use of federal relief funding that is designed to help keep workers employed, businesses operating, and our economy recovering,” the letter read. Read the full letter below.
The proposal is on the full Council agenda to be heard tonight.