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March 8, 2001
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Almost 200 New Mexico small businesses apply for help from Sandia under new state-funded assistance program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A seven-month-old Sandia National Laboratories program to help small New Mexico businesses solve pressing technical problems is off to a fast start, with more than 110 projects under way or completed. More than 190 businesses have applied for such help, and more are coming in every week, Sandia officials say.

Projects throughout the state cover a range of businesses and problems, from helping a small-town firm make a better lava-aggregate building material to helping a rural winery solve a process problem to helping a high-tech Albuquerque company with vibration tests for a future space mission.

Funded by the State of New Mexico through a unique agreement that went into effect in mid-2000, the New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program allows Sandia, a Department of Energy national laboratory, to give up to $10,000/year worth of technical advice and assistance to small businesses throughout the state.

What makes the program unique is that the state does not allocate money for the program, but in exchange for Sandia helping small businesses “forgives” the lab up to $1.8 million/year in gross receipts taxes it would otherwise pay on goods and services it buys in the state. Sandia is now the state’s single biggest gross receipts tax payer at about $45 million/year.

“Enthusiasm for this seven-month-old program is just tremendous,” says Sandia’s Vic Chavez, NMSBA program manager. “Many state small businesses really need this help and appreciate getting it, and Sandia technical staffers are eager to help them. We in fact already have several staff members who have helped on multiple projects.”

There are few requirements for small-business participation — mainly that companies must be bona fide for-profit New Mexico small businesses (generally 500 or fewer employees), and Sandia can help only when such help isn’t available for a reasonable cost through private sources.

Under program rules, Sandia can provide up to $5,000 worth of help per business each year for Bernalillo County businesses and $10,000/business in other counties. The state act that established the program set these spending limits.

There are two reasons more can be spent outside Bernalillo County, says Chavez. “Increasing employment opportunities in rural areas is a priority, and it costs more in time and travel to help businesses further away from our Albuquerque headquarters,” he explains. So far, Sandia has spent about 65 percent of program resources outside Bernalillo County and 35 percent inside.

Small New Mexico businesses wanting detailed information about the program can call in Albuquerque 843-4171 or statewide 1-800-765-1678, or e-mail sbpadmin@sandia.gov.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Media note:
Several small business owners and leaders participating in this program are available to do media interviews about their experiences. Please contact one of the persons below for names and telephone numbers of these businesses and leaders.

Media contact:
Larry Perrine, lgperri@sandia.gov, (505) 845-8511

NMSBA contact:
Mariann Johnston, mjohns@sandia.gov, (505) 843-4171

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