New Mexico governor signs $200M pandemic relief measure

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed legislation that will provide some relief to businesses that lost money in 2020 amid the pandemic and emergency health restrictions.

The measure will make available $200 million in grants and will be underwritten by a state job creation fund.

Businesses may qualify for grants of up to $100,000 that will be distributed in four quarterly payments. The money can be used to help pay for rent and mortgage obligations in exchange for the businesses rehiring workers or hiring new employees.

The governor and other lawmakers said the extra assistance will help get businesses back on their feet as many begin to reopen. Public health restrictions are being eased in more counties where positivity rates and daily case totals are declining. Just this week, more counties joined the ranks of those where indoor dining can be expanded along with other activities.

“We convened the 2021 session knowing that getting economic relief into local economies was the most critical action that we would take as lawmakers. Now we are continuing our work on subsequent bills. Help is on the way,” House Speaker Brian Egolf said in a statement.

The applications and payments for the grants will be managed by the New Mexico Finance Authority, which is expected to make a formal announcement when the application portal opens.

Businesses will have to show that they lost revenue during at least one quarter between 2019 and 2020.

As part of the hiring requirements attached to the funding, state officials said benchmarks will be agreed to in advance and monitored by the Economic Development Department.