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UNM Rainforest Innovations Receives CARES Act Grant to Expand EDA University Center

UNM Rainforest Innovations (formerly STC.UNM), the University of New Mexico’s technology-transfer and economic-development organization, announced that it has received a $300,000 CARE Act Recovery Assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant will help expand current business support through technical assistance, online courses and seminars, and virtual mentoring to help respond to the unusual and compelling urgency of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cornoavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provided the EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to aid in the prevention, preparation, and response to the coronavirus pandemic. UNM Rainforest Innovations, a current EDA University Center grantee, was one of more than 850 existing, high-performing grant recipients invited to apply for this supplemental funding under the CARES Act.

UNM Rainforest Innovations will continue to work in partnership with the Innovation Academy, UNM’s entrepreneurial program for students, to offer support to both UNM students and the greater New Mexico community.

Dr. Robert DelCampo, Executive Director of the Innovation Academy, stated, “The CARES Act funding that supplements our existing work allows us to provide tremendous training opportunities for businesses in our state; our plan is to provide the opportunity to create a business that will flourish in the 21st century in a global economy.”

Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer for UNM Rainforest Innovations also added, “The additional EDA funds from the CARES Act will be used to support more small New Mexico businesses with their recovery,” said UNM Rainforest Innovations CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila. “The training provided by Innovation Academy in e-commerce is helping our New Mexico businesses scale up online activity. Over 225 businesses have been assisted to date. The new funding will broaden the reach of the training statewide.”

Before the grant was awarded, a pilot course called “New Mexico Small Business Recovery” was offered in April 2020 and again in June 2020. The course was developed to teach businesses e-commerce techniques such as developing a storefront, researching and selecting a high-value, keyword-rich domain names, building an online presence through social media interactions and paid advertisements, and much more. Over 225 small businesses registered for these two offerings of the course from several different industries across New Mexico.

Former student of the New Mexico Small Business Recovery course, Uphoria Blackham added: “When the pandemic struck, life came to a standstill. My family was in the middle of opening a restaurant. There were tests to take and inspections to pass, but we couldn’t do a thing. This course was a lifeline. Marketing is the most important part of a business, and even if the world comes to a halt, you can still market the hell out of anything, open or not. And at such an affordable price, I found myself wishing I had taken [more] classes like this.”

To read the EDA press release, go to https://www.eda.gov/news/press-releases/2020/07/17/albuquerque-nm.htm. For more information on the Innovation Academy, visit http://innovationacademy.unm.edu/.

To learn more about the Rainforest University Center, visit http://loborainforest.com/nmrainforest/