Business Volunteers Give Eighth-Graders Incentive to Graduate

By Holly Bradshaw-Eakes, Finance New Mexico (and board member of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce)

By Holly Bradshaw-Eakes, Finance New Mexico (and board member of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce)

The earnings and opportunities gap that separates high school dropouts and graduates is wide, and it’s widening all the time. Yet 40 percent of New Mexico’s public school students quit their formal education before earning a diploma that can improve their options over a lifetime.

Those dismal statistics motivated David Sidebottom, a branch manager of Century Bank, to introduce the Choices education program to Santa Fe schools six years ago. Using a curriculum designed by the nonprofit Choices Education Group, Sidebottom and other volunteers visit eighth-graders for two hour-long workshops that illustrate in tangible, age-appropriate terms the consequences of quitting school prematurely. Continue reading

Get a Handle on Gross Receipts Tax if Doing Business in New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

Anyone who operates a business in New Mexico is familiar with the gross receipts tax, or GRT — a tax not on sales but on companies and people who do business here.

Unlike a sales tax, the GRT is imposed on the seller of property or services. It is not a tax the seller collects from the buyer and delivers to the state; it’s due even if the seller doesn’t charge the buyer. Continue reading

Businesses Have Stake in Enhanced Credit Card Security

By Missy Galle, Operations Officer, Los Alamos National Bank

By Missy Galle, Operations Officer, Los Alamos National Bank

Major credit card processors are imposing tougher security measures on credit card issuers in the industry’s ongoing efforts to combat credit card fraud.

These global standards — called EMV for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies collaborating on the new system — include embedding computer chips into “smart” credit cards that offer greater security for point of sale (POS) transactions than the magnetic strips on traditional credit cards.

Many chip-embedded cards require a personal identification number (PIN) instead of a signature to complete the POS transaction and close the security loop; these “chip-and-PIN” cards are the norm around the world, though they’ve been slow to catch on in the United States. Continue reading

Real Estate Loans Help Business Owner Promote Community Health

By Metta Smith, Director of Lending and Client Relations, Accion

By Metta Smith, Director of Lending and Client Relations, Accion

Health is a common denominator of Deanna Montoya’s Belen businesses: the Extreme Fitness gym, which she started seven years ago, and the Enchanted Smiles dental practice, which opened in September 2013.

The lifelong Belen resident operates both businesses, leading Zumba classes at the gym and working as a dental hygienist at Enchanted Smiles.

Montoya’s passion for fitness is obvious to locals — whether they’re the other instructors she employs to lead spin, rip and circuit training classes at Extreme Fitness; the dentist, receptionist and part-time hygienist who work at the dental practice; or the people who’ve benefited from community fundraisers Montoya has hosted to help pay her neighbors’ medical bills or raise awareness about cancer. Continue reading

Teamwork, Flexibility Are Key to Managing Creative Employees

By Sandy Nelson, Finance New Mexico team member

By Sandy Nelson, Finance New Mexico team member

Managing creative people can be confounding to business leaders who prefer order and structure. But learning how to manage or lead “creatives” is critical to recruiting and retaining the natural nonconformists whose unconventional ideas can lead to transformative products and services.

The trick is to balance a business’s need for on-time, on-budget work with the nonlinear thinker’s need for challenge, risk and meaning.

Some companies have famously figured out how to foster a culture of creativity and profitability, whether they’re producing forward-thinking commodities (think Apple and Samsung), services (Google, Facebook), business models (Virgin Group), operational designs (Southwest Airlines) or manufacturing processes (Toyota). Continue reading

A Score That Matters: What FICO Means to Small Business Borrowers

By Finance New Mexico

By Finance New Mexico

When a business applies for a loan, the lender reviews the credit score of the owner or owners and uses that information to assess risk. While the score is only one metric of financial stability, it can determine whether the business gets the loan at all, how much it can borrow and what interest terms it can expect.

For that reason, business owners need to know their scores and maintain the highest possible number by paying bills on time or getting help to correct money-management problems. Continue reading

U.S.-Backed Loan Program Helps Businesses Buy Growth Assets

By Norma Valdez, Community Development Director, The Loan Fund

By Norma Valdez, Community Development Director, The Loan Fund

Small companies often lease space before buying or building a property that allows them to expand or modernize. When they’re ready for that leap of faith, the U.S. Small Business Administration can help by underwriting a significant portion of any loan they need.

The SBA’s 504 loan program is a public-private partnership administered through a Certified Development Company (CDC) that helps small, independently owned companies secure the fixed assets — such as land, building and equipment — that they need to grow and be competitive. Continue reading

5S System Simplifies Production to Improve Profits

Jennifer Sinsabaugh

By Jennifer Sinsabaugh, Operations Director, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Companies can cut production time, eliminate waste and improve profitability by carefully studying, critiquing and refining the steps involved in manufacturing a product. They can even get better at processing invoices, orders and other paperwork using the same procedure. The nonprofit New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, or New Mexico MEP, helps companies refine this flow on the manufacturing floor and in the business office.

One tool we use to help businesses improve workplace organization and standardization is a workshop on the “5 S” system. This system deconstructs production into its individual parts to see what steps add value and which waste time and resources.

The five S’s in the plan’s name stand for sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain. Continue reading

Young Adults Are Target of Entrepreneurial Initiative

By Michelle Miller, founder and CEO, High Desert Discovery District

By Michelle Miller, founder and CEO, High Desert Discovery District

A frequent lament of New Mexico’s business community is the loss of brainpower and energy that results when young people move out of state to pursue economic opportunities they can’t find at home.

This exodus isn’t unique to New Mexico and, by itself, isn’t cause for alarm.

No matter where they live, young people almost always leave their home state after completing their schooling or training, even if they obtained that education tuition-free at New Mexico universities. Exploring the larger world and all its offerings helps young adults mature into self-aware global citizens — an asset to any community they choose to settle in.

What most concerns economic-development advocates is how to make New Mexico that destination of choice for our dispersed millennials — the generation now in its 20s and 30s. Continue reading

New Mexico Businesses Start Big with Franchise Ambitions

Olo Yogurt Studio

Olo Yogurt Studio

By Finance New Mexico

Multinational franchises like McDonald’s and KFC started small and worked their way up the food chain over decades. That methodical approach to growth seems too slow for the owners of two Albuquerque businesses.

Before Olo Yogurt Studio opened its first store in 2010 and WisePies served its first pizza in 2014, the owners of both ventures planned to become franchises — and to waste no time doing it.

Olo Yogurt opened a second store — a carbon copy of its colorful original — within three years and was strengthening its brand for further expansion. Continue reading