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New Mexico offers first economic development grant to rural retail shop

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(The Center Square) – A family farm owner in Torrance County received a first-of-its-kind state economic development assistance for his farm-and-ranch and hardware supply retail businesses in Estancia that he plans to expand to Mountainair.

Javier Sánchez, owner of Sánchez Farms, has owned the livestock feed and hardware store since February 2023.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department awarded his business $150,000 from its Local Economic Development Act job-creation fund, according to EDD.

Sánchez will invest $250,000 in private capital in the Estancia store and more money if his plans to expand to Mountainair come to fruition.

The grant is possible because, starting in 2020, the state changed its LEDA statute to allow for investments in retail projects in communities with populations of under 15,000 people. However, this is the first time it has happened, an EDD spokesman told The Center Square.

“The project must not compete with an existing business in the community,” the release explained.

Sánchez farms 400 acres in Ewing and operates Estancia Valley Feed & Supply alongside his eldest sons, Gilbert and Noé. He also plans to hire two full-time employees.

“Logistics hurdles have been a longstanding problem in economic development since the 1860s when the valley’s first merchants exchanged wethers and wool for dry goods in Belén and Las Vegas,” Sánchez said. “Present-day challenges haven’t changed much and the name of the game is bringing big city prices to the hinterlands. Cooperation is key, and knowing and appreciating our friends and neighbors can afford prospective merchants a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to buying in bulk, providing affordable goods and services, utilizing our respective skill sets, and taking pride in our community. We would like to make our stores a one-stop shop for farm and ranch needs.”

EDD Acting Cabinet Secretary Mark Roper said the funding will help create jobs in a rural part of the state.

“We have ever-changing challenges in growing New Mexico’s economy, especially in smaller rural areas,” Roper said. “This investment in a retail business aimed at supporting farm and ranch businesses shows that we can innovate and use tools such as LEDA to create jobs and invest in rural communities so families can prosper.”

Businesses can receive LEDA funding for investments in land, buildings, and infrastructure.

“Funds will be paid out to Sánchez Farms as the business meets economic development benchmarks established in a project participation agreement,” a release said.

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