318 Isleta Blvd. SW
Albuquerque, NM 87105
Based in Bernalillo County’s unincorporated South Valley, the nonprofit Rio Grande CDC was created in 1986 to articulate community concerns about the neglect of the area’s infrastructure, environment, and economic development.
Under the leadership of its present and former executive directors, Tony Gallegos and Julie Stephens, two major initiatives have brought health care to a medically uninsured population and created a 15,000 sq-ft business incubator, the South Valley Economic Development Center. These successes are linked to two entrepreneurs, Dr. Andru Ziwasimon Zeller and Callie Tolman.
In 2000, The Loan Fund granted RGCDC a $110,000 loan to purchase and renovate a 17-year-old building for its headquarters. In 2005, when RGCDC moved its offices into the business incubator, Andru rented the space for his new non-profit medical clinic, Casa de Salud.
Because the clinic charges only $30 per office visit while providing excellent care, the patient load topped 11,000 in 2010. The numbers are projected to increase dramatically in the years ahead; therefore Andru is leading a multi-year $900,000 campaign to enlarge the clinic at its current location. He is also fostering new businesses by sub-leasing space to other health practitioners.
Callie Tolman’s fledgling catering enterprise, Make My Lunch, received a boost from the business incubator’s 3,500 sq-ft. commercial kitchen, which has given dozens of start-up food entrepreneurs a costeffective way to test market their cooking skills and culinary creations.
When Make My Lunch outgrew the incubator in just under a year and she realized that she needed a mobile unit, Callie was referred to The Loan Fund and we lent her $12,000 to purchase a truck.
The results? Make My Lunch is now part of a new venture, Curbside Cuisine. Small, independent, mobile food vendors set up shop every Wednesday behind a popular Asian market, offering their products to a broader public.
“Buying the truck was the best thing that could have happened for my business,” Callie says. “The Loan Fund helped me get to the next level.”
“We have a number of clients in common with The Loan Fund,” Tony Gallegos points out, “and we are discussing ways to get even closer programmatically.