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New partnership aims to grow the economy in northwest New Mexico

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Four Corners Business Journal December 2015

FARMINGTON — San Juan County entrepreneurs or companies hoping to set up shop in the area have a new option for finding mentors, technical assistance and funding.

The Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs is partnering with San Juan College, San Juan County, the City of Farmington and Four Corners Economic Development in hopes of jumpstarting the area’s economy entering 2021.

SCAPE is a Durango, Colorado, based organization focused on helping new businesses. To date, SCAPE's helped businesses raise over $24 million and helped create 152 jobs, per a press release from San Juan College. The partnership marks the expansion of SCAPE's efforts into New Mexico.

Its goal is to diversify and strengthen locally-owned businesses in northern New Mexico and create employment opportunities for its residents, according to the press release.

SCAPE director Elizabeth Marsh said the partnership can help diversify local economies by connecting businesses with a larger national customer base, which will bring in more money to those communities. This allows locally-owned companies to generate more revenue from customers outside of northwest New Mexico.

Marsh also said that extra revenue can help shops add more employees to their staffs.

"Our program is about six months of due diligence, making sure businesses are on the right track," Marsh said.

If businesses need to make future hires, San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass said the school would help with things like workforce training for future employees. In the process, Pendergrass said the area would draw in investors.

Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass

"There's a lot of benefits that could be generated from this," Pendergrass said, adding the program will in turn strengthened the local economy and tax base.

Four Corners Economic Development CEO Arvin Trujillo said the program will benefit startup companies in the region.

“We’ve made a lot of leaps and bounds with technology, in terms of video conferences… As we see these changes happening, that’ll open up opportunities for small businesses," Trujillo said.

Trujillo said there are people in San Juan County looking to start up businesses, and that SCAPE’s mentorship and job expertise can help them bring their ideas to the forefront.

“We’ve got a lot of resources that we can draw on to help our entrepreneurs,” Trujillo said, adding the county has extra office space to work with.

Trujillo said San Juan County’s trying to take the lead on creating cybersecurity and solar energy jobs.

“(SCAPE’s) got some innovative ideas of doing that,” Trujillo said.

Four Corners Economic Development CEO Arvin Trujillo speaks during the Northwest Economic Outlook Forum, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at San Juan College in Farmington.

Trujillo said that more people from urban areas are moving to rural area, and having a more diverse business scene would help enhance San Juan County’s appeal.

Trujillo also said successful business startups with more regional or national outreach can help open doors for someone looking to relocate to San Juan County.

Marsh said the more higher-paying jobs and business growth opportunities there are in the area, the better it is for people trying to pay for things like housing, child care and health care.

"We kind of elevate the community by providing those opportunities," Marsh said. 

San Juan County businesses looking to apply for the program can do so online at https://www.goscape.org/apply.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, mhollinshead@daily-times.com on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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