A half-million dollars can go a long way in rural Northern New Mexico.
The Española-based Regional Development Corp. will use a $500,000 grant from Los Alamos National Laboratory operator Triad National Security LLC to fund its loan programs to small business, technology and manufacturing firms, plus tribal economic diversity grants, Executive Director Val Alonzo said.
“This is a very big deal,” Alonzo said. “It can make the difference for someone. A guy had to buy a power nail gun to grow the business. A lot of times rural businesses don’t have an extra $500 or $1,000.”
Small businesses have until Sept. 18 to apply for a Regional Development Corp. microloan or until all the money is allocated. If money is remaining after that date, there could be a second round of applications.
The Triad grant was announced last week in Santa Fe at the National Center for Genome Resources, the most substantial spinoff company from LANL in the “modern era,” said Thom Mason, Los Alamos National Laboratory director and Triad’s president and CEO.
The grant was the first project in Triad’s Community Commitment Plan that serves as the philanthropic arm for the lab, Mason said. Triad took over operations of the lab last fall and started working on this partnership with RDC the prior summer.
“For a truly vibrant economy in Northern New Mexico, we need a diversity of economic activity, and not all of it will be aligned with the mission of Los Alamos,” Mason said. “The lab exists in an ecosystem with education, business and local governments. We are more successful if that ecosystem is firing on all pistons.”
Regional Development Corp., an economic development entity serving seven Northern New Mexico counties, has a Friday deadline for tech-based and manufacturing companies to apply for loans up to $20,000. These loans require a 50 percent match from another source. But if all the funding is not loaned out, there would be a second round of applications.
Alonzo expects to hand out about 10 to 15 loans to tech and manufacturing companies, typically with five or six employees. The RDC is looking to fund rural tech and manufacturing companies intending to add jobs, increase revenue and attract additional investments.
The tribal economic diversity grants program will give out grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to microbusinesses at Northern New Mexico pueblos.