State LEDA Investments Boost Rural Communities

4 Jun 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. – The New Mexico Economic Development Department has worked quickly in the past year to help rural communities across the state bring new life to some vacant properties through a series of Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) fund investments.

Alamogordo and Otero County were among the first local governments to pass a LEDA ordinance and the community has invested wisely over the years. Medlin Ramps, based in California, chose Alamogordo for its third U.S. location. The company is a leading manufacturer of ramps and material handling equipment.

“We are delighted when companies like Medlin and others choose to locate in our rural communities, reviving vacant properties and providing jobs and educational opportunities outside the metro corridor,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “These investments help New Mexicans thrive in the communities they know and love.”

Medlin purchased a vacant Walmart store and 25 acres at the intersection of Highways 54 and 70. In addition to creating 45 jobs, Medlin will create a welding apprenticeship program at New Mexico State University. A state LEDA investment of $250,000 will support the building renovation, and the City of Alamogordo is investing $2.5 million in the expansion.

“This is great news for Alamogordo. It provides an example of what is possible when businesses know they’re welcome in rural New Mexico. In a competitive market, programs such as LEDA at the local and state level, show commitment to economic development and delivers the message that we are open for business," Laurie Anderson, Interim Executive Director, Otero County Economic Development Council, Inc., said.

More than half our 50 states have some kind of deal closing fund. While these funds might be prevalent, often states do not make those investments in smaller communities, like Cimarron, Lovington, and Las Vegas.

"Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the EDD are committed to rural New Mexico and proud to be different. We know a small investment in these communities can have big outcomes for creating more opportunities and jobs so New Mexicans can work close to home," Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said.

In another case of a company re-purposing a vacant building, Big Dog Industries purchased an old cheese factory in Lovington for its hemp operation. The building had been empty for over a decade. The fact that another economic base business took over the location will have a huge impact in the community in terms of bringing in new dollars. The state invested $750,000 in this project, which will create 125 new jobs, and the city invested $250,000.

“The Big Dog Industries project is a perfect example of why LEDA exists. This project provides a blueprint for local government of communities the size of Lovington, who have enacted LEDA, to follow, so that their projects are a success," City of Lovington Manager James R. Williams said. "To bring a manufacturing project of this size to a community like ours is a substantial game changer and proves that local LEDA investments work. The partnerships between private, local, and state government is how we can grow our job base, diversify our economy, and invest in the future of Lovington and the State of New Mexico.”

The Meston family has been in cattle ranching and showing since the 1930's. They own the Fifteen Mile Ranch in Bennett, Colorado. High Plains Processing LLC is an expansion of their long history in the business. The company will invest $1.6 million in a vacant building in Las Vegas, and for modern equipment to process meat from local ranches.  The state has pledged $100,000 in LEDA funds for the creation of 20 jobs.

"We are delighted that High Plains Processing will soon open in Las Vegas, N.M., and look forward to working with them and our historic ranching community to provide local high quality meats at our restaurants in the Castañeda, Plaza and Legal Tender," Allan Affeldt, Owner of Castañeda & Plaza Hotels said.

Lance Forest Products is yet another value-added agricultural business that chose rural New Mexico. This family-owned company is moving a sawmill from northern California to Cimarron in an effort to revitalize the forest industry in the northeast quadrant of the state. Once the operation is underway it plans to hire 40 employees with an equal number under contract to cut the trees and deliver the timber. The state will invest $350,000 in the project.

“The Cimarron, Lance Forest Sawmill Project, is a perfect fit for the Northeast mountains. It is an historic use of our natural resources, creating employment and improving forest health for New Mexicans,” Tim O’Neill of O’Neill Land, LLC said.

Since EDD began tracking LEDA funds in FY14, nearly $40 million has been invested in rural communities, generating over $1 billion in new private investment and supporting the creation of 4,270 jobs.