October 31, 2023

Tara Gohr and Erin Hielkema of The Grant Plant, Inc. to receive Advocate of the Year Award

The 505 Awards recognize outstanding leadership in economic development in the region, to be awarded at the Nov. 16 AREA Annual Dinner at Isleta Resort and Casino

Albuquerque, NM – The Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance has announced the honorees for the third annual 505 Awards, which recognize organizations and individuals that are making exceptional contributions to economic growth and prosperity in the greater Albuquerque region, resulting in improvements to its overall economic strength and competitive position.

This year’s Advocate of the Year Award honorees are Tara Gohr and Erin Hielkema of The Grant Plant, Inc. and is sponsored by Deloitte. The Advocate of the Year Award recognizes a business leader who has made a measurable difference by investing in projects that have created jobs and enhanced our ability to attract investment.

Tara Gohr and Erin Hielkema are accomplished professionals with a solid background in small business management and nonprofit organizational effectiveness. With a strong emphasis in public funding streams, philanthropy, and program planning, together they have made significant contributions to various sectors, including economic development, health and human services, education, community development, family services, poverty intervention, philanthropy and civic engagement, and arts and culture.

As the shared leaders of The Grant Plant, Inc., Tara (President/CEO) and Erin (Vice President/COO) have led the company to remarkable success since its inception in 2003. Under their guidance, the firm has secured approximately $250 million in grant funding and has grown from serving four clients to more than 50 annually. With a team of 15 professionals, they have effectively managed its growth and impact, ensuring its social responsibility and economic viability. In particular, they have a keen focus on bringing external financial resources into the state of New Mexico – approximately 75% of all grant funding secured has originated outside the state and supported the New Mexico nonprofit, educational, and governmental sectors. Their expertise in philanthropy extends to providing comprehensive services such as prospect research, grant writing, grant management and reporting, evaluation planning, and stakeholder relations.

“This award underscores the importance and the economic power of grants as a way to invest in projects that not only create jobs but also strengthen our capacity to attract additional investments and companies to New Mexico,” said Tara Gohr, President and CEO of The Grant Plant, Inc. “We have been fortunate to collaborate with those making positive change in our communities, amplifying their efforts to secure federal grants and private philanthropic funding to grow some of our top revenue-generating industries — like scientific R&D, healthcare, and tourism — in the state.”

“This award is especially meaningful this year, as The Grant Plant is celebrating our 20th year in business, as well as reaching the milestone of securing more than $250 million in funding for our clients – which are primarily New Mexico-based nonprofits, educational institutions, and local and state government agencies,” said Erin Hielkema, Vice President of The Grant Plant, Inc.”  We’re proud to be part of this community and contribute to a strong quality of life.”

The awards will be bestowed in person at AREA’s signature event, the Annual Dinner and 505 Awards which will take place November 16 from 5 – 9 p.m. at the Isleta Resort and Casino. This year’s theme is “AREA 51” – a nod to the history of New Mexico and where the organization plans to see the economy in 51 years.

To attend the 2023 Annual Dinner and 505 Awards, where honorees will be recognized, or for more information on awards categories, eligibility requirements or judging criteria, visit www.abq.org/505Awards/.

About AREA
The Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is leads and executes strategies designed to grow and diversify the economic base of the greater Albuquerque region, creating a prosperous, diverse and inclusive economy and elevating the standard of living for all. AREA provides confidential assistance to businesses considering the area for expansion and new investment. Since its creation in 1960, AREA has recruited more than 250 companies and more than 35,000 jobs to the Albuquerque metro area. AREA also provides retention and expansion assistance to existing industry. For more information, visit ABQ.org.


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