Grants approved for small rural business owners in El Paso County

A non-profit organization is helping small business owners in rural areas of El Paso to apply for grants to alleviate financial mishaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research by the organization LiftFund discovered that small business owners in rural areas did not apply for grants available to them due to a lack of internet connectivity, a language barrier, or not enough information that is reaching them.

LiftFund was previously awarded $1 million from the City of El Paso and $1 million from the County of El Paso from their CARES Act funds to relieve small businesses during the pandemic’s economy, but organizers noticed only applicants from city limits were showing up.

“We didn’t have any applicants or loan recipients from colonias, including here in my hometown of Fabens, Tornillo and Montana Vista,” said Rodrigo Estrada, small business analyst intern with LiftFund.

Colonias are small communities in rural areas of the county that often live at a distance from infrastructure.

“It’s not uncommon that resources are unable to make their way down to the colonias and in the border region,” Estrada said.

LiftFund says now the organization has received $110,000 specifically for business owners in the rural areas of the county from Hispanics in Philanthropy’s program Power Up.

“These are grants. These are not loans. These are grants, and so they don’t have to repay,” said Lupe Mares, vice president, LiftFund Southwest Region.

The organization’s next challenge is to connect with business owners to get the word out. Satellite locations in the county are being set up where business owners can have access to internet and have someone assist them with the application. One of the locations is the Fabens Nutrition Center, Mares said.

Colonia business owners can apply here. 

LiftFund may be contacted at (888) 215-2373.

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