A local nonprofit with the goal of helping entrepreneurs succeed in business got a little help of its own recently.

The Valencia County Business Incubator received a $25,000 LEADS grant to help it equip and set up its office space at the Rio Communities City Hall.

VCBI interim director Ben Romero said the grant comes from the Local Economic Assistance and Development support program, under the New Mexico Economic Development Division. In 2016, LEADS grew out of the certified community initiative run by the division.

The grant is the maximum available, Romero said, and will help VCBI pay for  equipment, furniture, computers and retrofitting office space.

“This helps us set up and run a best practices business incubator,” Romero said. “It’s a cost-reimbursement grant that we have for a year, then we can apply again next year.”

The award helps the incubator, a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, get closer to its overall fundraising goal of $250,000 and the hiring of a full-time director, Romero said.

“We have support from Rio Communities, (the village of) Los Lunas and a lot of local businesses,” he said.” We also received a $3,000 discretionary grant from the McCune (Charitable) Foundation, and we’ll be applying for a bigger grant with them.

“We have a lot of grant applications out now, and we’ve been reaching out to local businesses. Things are moving along with the financials.”

Romero also said the incubator had its first walk-in client earlier this month.

“They are looking to locate in Valencia County,” he said. “This shows us there’s a need and people are excited. If people come to us and we aren’t the right fit, we will get them where they need to go. We want to be a community resource.”

The business incubator board of directors is continuing its fundraising efforts, Romero said. Local companies can become platinum members for a tax deductible donation of $5,000 or more, and as such will be displayed on all the incubators collateral materials. When the incubator hits its third year, those sponsors will be classified as founders of the incubator.

Any local companies interested in learning more about becoming a supporter should contact interim director Ben Romero by phone or text, 505-514-5555, or email, ben5romero@gmail.com. More information about the VCBI can be found at vcbi.org.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.