LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KFOX14) — Business owners in Las Cruces say they need support from city officials amid a decline in the number of businesses in the city.
Gina Ortega, who owned La Fiesta Bakery, said she had to close after struggling to stay afloat.
“When you’re a small business owner, your retirement is death, and they literally killed you,” said Ortega.
KFOX14 found more than 15 local businesses have shut down in Las Cruces over the past year.
Based on the Quarterly Economic Outlook report released by the city, business registrations and renewals were below their eight-year monthly average during the first six months of 2019.
Ortega closed her bakery in January.
“We had a lot of great customers and they were saddened when we closed,” said Ortega.
She said the sound of someone opening the door to her bakery was music to her ears.
“You depend on that money to pay your bills. We provided a great service to our customers who tried to help, but there’s only so much people can do,” said Ortega.
She and the former owner of Mesilla Valley Kitchen, who closed his restaurant in February said officials weren’t very supportive of their businesses.
“I blame it on our city. I blame it on our city government,” said Ortega.
“I believe in my heart that we have a city government that is very unfriendly towards businesses,” said Jeff O’Brien, who owned Mesilla Valley Kitchen.
O’Brien used the minimum wage increase as an example.
“I waited for the last increase back in January of this year to happen and after maybe three payrolls, I said no, that’s the end. It’s too much. I raised prices. It still wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile,” said O’Brien.
Griselda Martinez, who works in the economic development department for the city, disagrees.
“I don’t see that there’s anything specifically happening in the city that is triggering these businesses to go out of business,” said Martinez.
She said the city provides workshops and boot camps for local business owners to utilize.
“We are committed to working with businesses to connect them to resources, or whatever that may be, to help them be successful,” said Martinez.
Some of those resources include:
* Business Concierge program
Designated to help businesses by having one point of contact for the city of Las Cruces for any business-related issue. https://www.las-cruces.org/1537/Business-Concierge
* Job Fair in partnership with Workforce Connections, Wednesday.
An effort to connect job seekers to the 1,000-plus jobs available in Las Cruces, as well as connecting business owners to programs that can help them with talent recruitment and training.
* Libraries as Launchpads, fourth cohort starting Thursday.
This is a five-week business accelerator program to help entrepreneurs grow their business or successfully launch their business making sure they understand their market and how to get to them. Previous cohort finished.
* Borderplex Alliance Economic Council
Quarterly meeting to review data, trends and partnerships.