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New Mexico Governor announces financial relief for businesses through Wildfire Grant Program

Christian Fernsby |
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the launch of the Wildfire Business Assistance Grant Program, which will provide emergency assistance to business owners and self-employed individuals whose businesses were physically damaged or saw reduced revenue due to recent wildfires.

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Governor Lujan Grisham authorized the Economic Development Department (EDD) to create the New Mexico Wildfire Business Assistance Grant, a new $1.5 million temporary program to provide support to small businesses and self-employed individuals when federal assistance falls short.

“The communities impacted by New Mexico wildfires have suffered horrific losses and some of what is gone can never be replaced,” Governor Lujan Grisham said. “But this grant program will supplement federal government assistance to help businesses recover faster.”

Businesses that qualify for priority assistance must be inside the boundaries of the Presidential Disaster Declaration for the Big Hole, Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak, Cooks Peak, and McBride fires.

Those areas are Colfax, San Miguel, and Mora Counties, parts of Lincoln County (ZIP codes 88345 and 88312) and Valencia County (ZIP code 87002); and regions of Sandoval and Los Alamos counties impacted by wildfire and evacuations.

Eligible businesses can qualify to receive between $5,000 and $20,000. The money available is repurposed from the EDD’s Collateral Assistance Program, which utilizes federal funding.

“The governor has taken the lead in helping EDD free up these dollars so the money can be used immediately to help families and business owners,” Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “We know it’s just a fraction of the assistance that is needed, but these funds are available now and can be used by any businesses and sole proprietor who experienced losses from these horrific fires.”

Applicants are encouraged to sign up for a webinar hosted by EDD to provide an overview of the program and application process.

The information session is scheduled for 9 a.m. August 11.

The application portal will be open for two weeks starting on August 15 and ending August 26. If funds are still available, additional application periods will be announced. The program will close when funds are exhausted or December 1, 2022.

EDD’s Outdoor Recreation Division has been instrumental in setting up the program as many of the businesses who were forced to cease operations were outdoor outfitters and guides, some of whom not only lost revenue, but helped in the fire relief and emergency efforts.

All types of business qualify for assistance, including restaurants and hospitality services, if they can demonstrate that operations were physically damaged or impacted by the fires.

To qualify, a business must demonstrate that they:

• Are legally operating in New Mexico with a CRS #
• Have a business address located in a wildfire impacted area or majority of business operations occur in wildfire impacted area
• Have experienced physical fire damage to business property; and/or the business’ revenue declined due to the fires, like restaurants and outdoor recreation businesses.

To receive additional funding beyond $5,000, businesses must either provide an insurance claim showing fire damage or provide proof of revenue decline due to the wildfires.

Funds from the grant can be used for construction and repair costs, operating capital, asset purchases and administrative costs.

To further assist individuals and businesses affected by the wildfires, New Mexico’s congressional delegation introduced the Hermit’s Peak Fire Assistance Act. The Act has passed the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and is awaiting action in the Senate.

The legislation would require FEMA to fully compensate residents and business owners impacted by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire, which were ignited by federal prescribed burns.

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