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Local business community in Las Cruces shares concerns

A local business roundtable discussion over issues facing small businesses was held at Cruces Creatives on February 22nd, 2023. Small business owners met with U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez (NM-2).

The Las Cruces Farmers Market is one of the most popular places to visit for both tourists and locals in the city. Besides being a great place to buy local goods, the market serves as a great starting point for many small businesses looking to grow in the city.

Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce President Debbi Moore has been working with the chamber since 2016. She says while there are many positives to starting a business in Las Cruces, there are some major hurdles.

“One of the main ones is the regulatory restraints from all government agencies from the city all the way up to federal and how businesses can really navigate those streams of regulatory constraints,” Moore said.

According to The Federal Reserve, more than 700,000 businesses had to close their doors in the beginning of the pandemic. Moore said the pandemic may be starting to fade for memory, residual effects are being felt by many businesses.

“I always say ‘How much can you charge for a taco?’ So, prices have gone up, the minimum wage went up in January of this year. My small businesses love their employees and want to keep them but at the same time the price increase is huge on the supply chain,” Moore said.

U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez (NM-2) visit Cruces Creatives.

While small businesses may face many challenges, Moore says that the first step to improvement is listening.

“I think listening to the business community is a powerful tool. And the regulatory restraints, how do you navigate that because businesses don't know until they get a fine or something. I have been doing this for about 40 years and that is one of the most consistent challenges,” Moore said.
In an effort to hear small business challenges, U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez alongside United States Small Business Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman held a roundtable with local business owners.

“We have faced many challenges, especially through COVID and the pandemic but we also stepped up. The administration delivered the relief that small businesses needed to be successful and now what we are seeing as we are talking with small businesses is how can we continue to partner with different agencies and get different resources so now we can grow our businesses,” Vasquez said.

Patrick DeSimio is a co-owner of Cruces Creatives, a local makerspace that allows people to build or create anything they want. As well as being a host for the meeting, Patrick says that the meeting was productive.

Work goes on at shared makerspace Cruces Creatives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Some of the challenges we heard today involved businesses that for whatever reason were falling through the cracks in the programs. We heard from some agricultural producers that were not able to access the paycheck protection program for instance. I did find cracks that people found through experience that could be fixed moving forward,” DeSimio said.

According to the United States Small Business Administration, 99% of all businesses in New Mexico are classified as small businesses. Patrick says that after a nationwide search, this and other factors led to the creation of Cruces Creatives in Las Cruces. With a couple more, changes he says that the business atmosphere could improve greatly.

“Las Cruces really is remarkable in many ways for its small business atmosphere. There are lots of things that can be improved, permitting processes could be streamlined a lot as we have heard from several folks but the overall ground level foundation is there, DeSimio said.

Small businesses can be seen all over town and may play an important role in both the economy and culture of the community. As pandemic issues continue to subside, many look to continue the momentum to create a healthier business atmosphere.

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