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Muhamed Abdelhack covers business and economy for The Paper. He is a communications and journalism graduate of UNM.

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On Thursday, June 17 President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that established June 19, also known as Juneteenth, as a national holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 when the last slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas, by Union Major General Gordon Granger. To honor the creation of the new holiday, cities across the country, including Albuquerque, held celebrations that featured talks, food and music. “I’ve been in Albuquerque my whole life, and I’ve not once seen an all-black show of this caliber, where you’re bringing out all the beautiful artists of all genres,” said Kahali Soul, a small business owner and artist, in an interview with KOAT-7.

In an effort to make good on promises made in June of 2020 and to coincide with the Juneteenth celebrations, Mayor Tim Keller announced investments in local Black-owned businesses. “At times, we mistakenly perpetuate a tri-cultural history myth and forget that Albuquerque, especially, has a vibrant Black community. Relatedly, we have ignored a big gap in the access to opportunity for this community for too long. We’ve got to step up for them to create better access to funding, investment and capital. Now is the time,” said Mayor Keller at the time. Additional details for this program were recently announced during the Juneteenth celebrations through the One Albuquerque Fund. The fund, which was created to fund critical programs and address core challenges in Albuquerque such as housing, workforce support, youth opportunity and more, was granted one million dollars for Black-owned businesses and organizations that work within the Black community.

The funds will be distributed in two phases: Phase one disbursements will focus on Black-owned businesses and organizations that work within the Black community, while phase two will look to invest in Albuquerque’s Black communities. Applications and surveys to be considered for disbursements can be found on the One Albuquerque webpage (onealbuquerque.org) and will run between June 19 and July 19. The business grant will cover necessary expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, utilities, equipment lease payments and payroll. Funds can be up to $50,000 and must be used within one year after the award and will be evaluated over that time.

As a result of the anticipated volume of submissions, applications will be ranked based on predetermined priorities including impact, need and viability. Questions that will be considered are: Is the business primarily Black-owned? Does the business provide employment? Has the business experienced closure or modified requirements due to COVID-19? Does the business have access to other federal, state and/or local financial assistance? Has the business remained opened, reopened, or does it have plans to reopen?

Interested applicants are encouraged to reach out to Nicole Bedford at Nicole@onealbuquerque.org with questions or fill out the online application no later than July 19 at 5pm for consideration.

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