Grant aims to help business development

Capacity Builders one of three recipients in New Mexico

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON — A local nonprofit organization is the recipient of a $232,255 federal grant to assist six Navajo Nation chapters in developing business opportunities.
Capacity Builders Inc. will use the award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development Grant program to provide training sessions and other leadership workshops in the Nenahnezad, San Juan, Shiprock, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tsé Daa K’aan and Upper Fruitland chapters.

Capacity Builders Inc. Executive Director Rachel Nawrocki and Four Corners Power Plant Government Relations Manager Arvin Trujillo talk Tuesday at Capacity Builders Inc. offices in Farmington.

“We’re grateful to the USDA rural development for their investment in this initiative. Their team has been stellar in its support of this project,” said Rachel Nawrocki, executive director for Capacity Builders.

Capacity Builders Inc. Executive Director Rachel Nawrocki and Four Corners Power Plant Government Relations Manager Arvin Trujillo Oct. 6, 2015, at Capacity Builders Inc. offices in Farmington.
Four Corners Power Plant Government Relations Manager Arvin Trujillo talks about a federal grant Tuesday during an interview at Capacity Builders Inc. offices in Farmington.

The project’s primary focus is to train participants in identifying and developing business opportunities in the communities, as well as examining the funding opportunities available to execute those ideas.
Participants can range from chapter officials and staff members to members of a chapter’s community land use planning committee, residents, young people and elders.
Arvin Trujillo, manager of Government Relations at the Four Corners Power Plant, said the sessions will help individuals develop the skills to become economic catalysts for their communities and learn how to highlight their assets, capabilities and resources.

“If we can do it in that fashion and then begin to market that aspect and that fashion, I think the chapters will begin to see their ability to obtain the necessary funding to do some of these needed projects within their communities,” Trujillo said.
The Arizona Public Service Co., the majority owner and primary operator of the power plant, started a similar initiative a few years ago in the six chapters, which worked out until the projects outgrew the available funding, Trujillo said.
In addition to thinking about future development, communication between chapters helps them create broader, regional projects, he said.
Examples of regional projects could be a topic of discussion between the Nenahnezad, San Juan and Upper Fruitland chapters to address infrastructure such as road improvements for school bus routes or renovation of irrigation canals, he said.
“What we are starting with and where we’ll eventually end up is that these communities will know exactly where to go and how to build projects that are fundable through creation of strategic plans, identification of existing resources, and executing of funding requests,” Nawrocki said.
Capacity Builders was notified about the award on Sept. 26, and the funding period runs from November to September 2016, she said.
The announcement was made Monday by USDA Undersecretary Lisa Mensah.
“These strategic investments are supporting a wide range of business needs that will help Native American enterprises – from technical assistance and training to revolving loan funds,” Mensah said in a USDA press release.

Among the 28 recipients nationwide to receive funding under the $4.3 million grant are three from New Mexico.
Santa Clara Pueblo will receive $20,000 to provide agribusiness economic development planning, and New Mexico State University will receive $54,699 to provide technical assistance and training to develop a marketing cooperative, according to the release.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.