Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory closure

Manager Evelyn Espinoza serves customers July 28 at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Taos Plaza. ‘This is like my second home,’ said Espinoza, who has been working at the business for 20 years. Owner Bowe Ellis closed the store over the summer due in part to the loss of revenue during COVID-19 restrictions.

Taos County businesses that have closed or whose services have been curtailed during the coronavirus pandemic may be eligible for up to $10,000 in funding via the CARES Act.

The state of New Mexico is making up to $292,875 in grants available for the county from a total of $178 million set aside for tribal and local governments throughout the state.

Businesses must have opened prior to March 1, 2019, have 50 or fewer employees and an annual revenue of under $2 million to qualify.

“Retail, manufacturing and service industry businesses will receive priority,” reads a press release from Taos County, “along with ‘anchor businesses’ that are significant employers, or that are considered important to the local economy or quality of life of the community.”

Taos County plans to also prioritize businesses and nonprofits within the unincorporated areas of the county.

Funds may go toward “business continuity expenses” – such as nonowner employee payroll, rent, mortgage, insurance and marketing – and “business redesign” meant to enhance customer and employee safety, such as plexiglass barriers, drive-through windows and patio dining.

There are approximately 1,100 licensed businesses in Taos County, 80 percent of which have suffered closures or whose services have been cut back due to the pandemic, according to research from Rita O’Connell, an independent consultant for the county.

Some of Taos County’s primary industries – retail, hospitality education and construction – saw gross receipts tax reductions between 20 and 60 percent, O’Connell estimated.

Some local businesses have closed permanently this year, including Rock Mountain Chocolate Factory on Taos Plaza.

Municipalities in Taos County have also received funds from the federal grant; the county received $525,000; Taos received $1.9 million; Taos Ski Valley received $97,000; Red River received $50,000; Questa $67,500; and Angel Fire and Eagle Nest received $447,932 and $86,000, respectively.

The town of Taos has $500,000 in funds available to assist local businesses.

Business owners may obtain application materials and see additional program requirements at

Applications will be accepted until Oct. 16 and award announcements will be made before Nov. 6.

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