by Sharon Niederman
RATON— City of Raton Economic Development Director Jessica Barfield says the City of Raton has an economic development fund to support establishing a micro-loan fund for local businesses adversely affected by the pandemic. The details and application will be published in early April as officials work out the legal structure to implement this assistance.
“The January gross receipts tax increase dedicated to economic develepmont made this fund possible,” said Barfield.
Barfield emphasizes the loan application form will be easy to fill out, and the criteria to receive loans favorable to local businesses. Micro-loans will be awarded on a case-by-case basis, but, in general, the business applicant must: Have been in business at least one year; show a business license; be in good standing in the state; and include a letter from owners describing what they need to be sustainable.
“The process will be transparent and streamlined,” Barfield said, and designed to provide assistance where it is most needed.
The plan is for the city commission to appoint a task force to examine applications and refer approved applications to the commission for final approval. The loans are designed to help business owners with cash flow to get through this crisis period caused by the pandemic. They are not intended for business expansion or to pay off long-term debt.
“While, due to New Mexico law, we can not make outright grants, the city can make small loans at low interest, say 2 percent, and payable within two to four years, with an eye to keeping payments reasonable, $100-$200, even allowing for 15-30 days with no repayment required.
While federal and state loan programs may be available, most incentive packages are structured for businesses with 40-50 employees, Barfield observed. Obviously, most Raton businesses are much smaller and therefore do not meet these criteria.
Meanwhile, New Mexico businesses may contact Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, (505) 454-3038 to receive information and consultation on the small business programs available through the CARES stimulus package that recently passed.
A thorough and detailed list of federal and state programs and loans to help New Mexico business may be found here: