Heinrich: $774,000 goes to small businesses

Senator Martin Heinrich shakes hands with Kerry Marler, operations director of Etkie, Wednesday at the WESST Enterprise Center in Albuquerque. (Chancey Bush / Journal)

New employees for an organization. Helping Native American artisans get their work featured on e-commerce sites. These are just a few of the areas where small business organizations plan to use federal funds received through the FY2023 Omnibus Appropriation Agreement.

At a press conference Wednesday, Senator Martin Heinrich announced $774,000 for small business organizations — including WESST, the New Mexico Minority Business Development Agency Business Center and the New Mexico Small Business Development Center — to help with small business development, especially in the underserved communities to help.

“Each of these awards is important, but it’s really about growing our economy in the state to use all of our talent and all of our entrepreneurship to the full and fulfill their potential,” Heinrich said. “And then our whole state really benefits from that.”

WESST, an organization that helps with business formation, consulting, training and access to capital, received most of the federal funding, including $233,000 to hire bilingual business trainers for a new center in Hobbs; $80,000 to hire a project manager for the organization’s Money Learning Lab; and $78,000 for a statewide director for its craft entrepreneurial initiatives.

Agnes Noonan, the president of WESST, said at Wednesday’s news conference that the money will support the organization’s efforts in southeastern New Mexico.

“Hobbs’ demographics have changed incredibly,” Noonan said. “There are many … native Spanish speakers seeking help and we intend to offer it.”

The New Mexico Minority Business Development Agency’s Business Center, led by Gabriela Marques, was awarded $200,000 to hire two full-time business consultants.

The New Mexico Small Business Development Center received $125,000 to help Native American business owners create their own e-commerce websites and $58,000 to provide entrepreneur training for incarcerated individuals.

Russell Wyrick, the NMSBDC’s state director, said it was the second consecutive fiscal year that the organization had received federal funding for its initiatives.

“This e-commerce project, funded for both fiscal years, will help these artisans receive true value for their work, rather than having to sell it at a super cheap (price) and not reaping the benefits,” said Wyrick.