New Mexico's Dream State

New Mexico’s authentic culture draws business and talent.

By
Bill Lewis
On Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 12:56
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When the first commercial space tourists launch from Spaceport America, they will join a long line of pioneers, innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses reaching for the stars in New Mexico.

These include Virgin Galactic, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Facebook, Fidelity Investments, Netflix, NBCUniversal and many more.

All are drawn by New Mexico’s unique combination of advantages, including an unmatchable lifestyle and natural beauty, rich cultural experiences and a deep pool of skilled talent.

Enhanced incentive programs, a pro-business environment, affordability and a strategic location that offers easy access to major markets across the globe add to the state’s appeal for expanding and relocating businesses.

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Virgin Galactic/The Spaceship Company/Eric Draper

Authentic Culture

“New Mexico is different. The state maintains a unique and authentic culture and lifestyle that resonate with companies and the talent they need. In a world where a company’s choices for their next expansion location are increasingly similar, New Mexico stands out. It’s uniqueness has long served to inspire innovators and creators to achieve their best,” says Tim Nitti, president and CEO of the New Mexico Partnership.

Additionally, New Mexico does not suffer from oversaturated labor markets that make attracting and retaining talent difficult, and the quality of life, lack of congestion and lower cost of living mean that talented workers won’t feel the need to leave their own state.

“The state’s smaller population scale makes it easy to stand out, and companies have easy access to other businesses and government officials,” Nitti says. “Everyone from the local business community up to the political leadership in the state is eager to help companies thrive when they choose New Mexico.”

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Virgin Galactic/The Spaceship Company/Eric Draper

Changing the World

Innovators are at home in New Mexico, and in 2019, many more made the state their destination of choice.

Kairos Power, headquartered in California, chose Albuquerque for a new R&D center focused on modular reactor technology. The company will initially employ 67, with an average salary of more than $100,000, and invest as much as $125 million.

Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of moving the remainder of its operations team from Mojave, California, to Spaceport America in anticipation of beginning launches from the facility.

Additionally, New Mexico has become a major center for the film and television industry. In late 2018, Netflix chose the state for its first-ever U.S.-based production hub. In early 2020, the company began moving forward with plans to employ more than 1,000 people per year. NBCUniversal also announced plans for a studio in Albuquerque, creating 330 jobs and investing more than $500 million.

The success of the film industry and the availability of the Film and Digital Media Refundable Tax Credit, which rebates 25-30% of eligible spending on film and digital media production in New Mexico, are helping to launch the growth of another industry – video game production. Ganymede Games selected Las Cruces as the location for its new headquarters in 2019. They will hire an initial team of 51 in the near-term to begin development of their first game.

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Jeff Adkins

Growing a New Industry

When federal law legalized industrial hemp, New Mexico leveraged its position as an agricultural leader to encourage the industry’s growth. One of the first companies to capitalize on this was Rich Global Hemp (RGH).

RGH relocated its headquarters from Nevada to Mesilla, NM, where it renovated a greenhouse facility with about 800,000 square feet of space.

RGH announced it will hire 180 people and invest more than $19 million. A key factor in the company’s decision was New Mexico’s favorable regulatory environment and the eagerness of New Mexico State University to collaborate with the company. The university is one of the nation’s premier agricultural sciences institutions.

At the end of 2019, New Mexico demonstrated that it continues to be a major player in financial and business services when Faneuil, the Virginia-based business process outsourcing company, announced a new site in Albuquerque. The company joins other leaders in the sector, such as Fidelity Investments, T-Mobile and Bank of America. Faneuil plans to rapidly grow to 700 employees, Nitti says.

Economic Momentum

“New Mexico added more than 15,000 jobs in 2019, placing it among the top 10 states for job growth during six consecutive months. This remarkable momentum is a result of economic strength among a wide range of industry sectors, including manufacturing, professional services, film, energy and aerospace, to name just a few,” Nitti says. “And it’s coming from all sources; recruitment of new companies, the rapid expansion of existing employers and a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem of cutting-edge, innovative startups.”

“Everyone from the local business community up to the political leadership in the state is eager to help companies thrive when they choose New Mexico.”

Tim Nitti, New Mexico Partnership

Strong Incentives

New Mexico offers numerous advantages for business investment, including a highly skilled workforce, powerhouse research assets and a strategic location.

The state’s suite of incentive programs encourages job creation and investment. The state offers incentives aimed at a wide range of industries, such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense, sustainable and value-added agriculture, back office and technical support, logistics, energy, film and digital media, and emerging technologies, just to name a few.

Among New Mexico’s incentive programs are:

- The Local Economic Development Act (LEDA), a discretionary cash-grant incentive program that can be used toward reimbursing costs associated with land, building and infrastructure improvements.

- The Job Training Incentive Program, which provides cash reimbursement for on-the-job and classroom training for newly created jobs in expanding or relocating businesses by reimbursing employers for 50-75% of employee wages for up to six months.

- The High Wage Jobs Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for each new high-wage economic-base job (paying over $40,000 in a rural area or $60,000 in a metro). The credit reimburses 8.5% of compensation paid for four years for each such job created.

- Film and Digital Media Refundable Tax Credit, which offers a 25-30% refundable tax credit on all direct production and post production expenditures that are subject to taxation by the state of New Mexico.

State lawmakers in 2019 increased the LEDA fund to $75 million and more than doubled the amount of annual Film Tax Credit reimbursements, which can rebate up to 30% of costs related to producing film or other digital media spent in New Mexico, to $110 million.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Lewis is an award-winning business journalist whose work has appeared in publications across the United States.