from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Individual Development Account program has been helping New Mexico's lower-income people start or expand businesses, go to school or purchase homes for eight years. Prosperity Works, the group which funds the program, is celebrating the anniversary by helping to market IDA-funded businesses.
The nonprofit is starting a new network for those small companies on its prosperityworks.net website.
Laureen Lerch, Prosperity Works communications director, explains what visitors will see when they go to the site.
"We're going to create a New Mexico map so you can click on each county, and when you click on that county, all the small businesses from IDAs that have opened, you can pull up their website or get their address."
Lerch says the map should be ready within the next few months. In the meantime, the nonprofit is using social media to create a forum so people in the IDA program can connect with each other.
Prosperity Works has started a Facebook group to allow anyone in the IDA program who has opened or is planning to open a business to chat. It's also available to anyone who is just curious about the program. Lerch says it isn't for sharing competitive information, such as finances or business plans, but can be a resource for getting advice from other small-business owners.
"We can have an open group discussion for businesses to market their products and services. And then we'll monitor the group, and if that is a concern, we can set up a private, closed group on Facebook."
To find the group, look for "New Mexico IDA Businesses" on the Facebook site.
One business which received an IDA grant is Bikeworks in Albuquerque. Rick Nolan owns the company, which rents, delivers and picks up bicycles. He says he used the money from the award to start a new line of road bikes.
"To invest in an extension of our fleet, we added another category. If we hadn't had those funds, we probably wouldn't have realized the amount of revenue that we generated with the road bikes."
Nolan likes the idea of an IDA network, and says he wants to be able to meet other New Mexico entrepreneurs.
The Facebook page is at facebook.com/newmexicoidabusinesses
Beth Blakeman reporting, firstname.lastname@example.org .