Not Your Granddad’s Factory - New Mexico excels at tech-driven manufacturing.
What could a global computer chipmaker, an interactive arts company and a producer of technical bicycle products possibly have in common?
All of them have business addresses in New Mexico, where advanced manufacturers combine technology-driven innovation with craftsmanship to produce products in demand around the world. They are thriving in the state, thanks to a skilled, job-ready workforce, a wealth of training resources, lower costs and major logistics and supply chain advantages.
Three major interstates that cross the state, a vast railway system and a number of regional and international airports provide direct access to much of the U.S. and Mexico.
New Mexico offers the lowest effective tax rate for manufacturers in the nine-state Western region and no inventory tax.
Those advantages appeal to a diverse collection of companies, such as aerospace components manufacturer Sun Country Industries, medical device manufacturer Ethicon Endo-Surgery, a Johnson & Johnson company, and computer chipmaker Intel, which has invested more than $15 billion in its Rio Rancho operations since it came to New Mexico in 1980.
The Experience Economy
The state has attracted a growing list of technologically driven manufacturers, such as Ideum, which was started in California 20 years ago but is now based in Sandoval County.
Ideum deploys emerging technologies to create unique products and engaging interactive exhibits with immersive digital tools like touch tables, video walls and projection mapping to tell stories and create compelling visitor experiences.
“We are thrilled to be here,â€ says Jim Spadaccini, Ideum’s founder and creative director. “It is a great place to live and work. Over the years, we’ve assembled a fantastic interdisciplinary team that feels the same way. We’ve been able to work on creative projects with some of the best known museums in the country and Fortune 500 companies while calling New Mexico home.”
Meow Wolf, the experiential arts company founded in New Mexico, is expanding with an infusion of funding from investors. As the experience economy grows – the idea that people are more interested in experiences than in buying possessions – the Santa Fe-based company is growing with it.
Meow Wolf acquired a former heavy equipment plant in Santa Fe that now serves as a fabrication, welding, wood shop, art, design and manufacturing facility for its creative exhibits. The company is expanding nationally and bringing its experiences to Las Vegas, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, where the exhibit will include a 400-room art hotel.
“Guests are always asking about staying overnight inside of our House of Eternal Return project in Santa Fe, so doing an intertwined exhibition and hotel just made sense to us,â€ says CEO and co-founder Vince Kadlubek.
While Meow Wolf is seeing this success and expanding all over the nation, they are choosing to stay headquartered in the state.
New Mexico has several business parks dedicated to advanced manufacturing. The Sandia Science and Tech Park, for example, is home to dozens of companies that support the Sandia National Laboratories. One of its newer tenants is Raytheon Missile Systems, which, in late 2017, opened a 72,000-square-foot facility in the park to develop and make range monitoring and telemetry systems for the U.S. and its allies.
The Right Climate
For Bicycle Technologies International (BTI), New Mexico’s mild climate and wide-open spaces also offer advantages for a company that is a part of its growing outdoors industry.
BTI has been a distributor of technical cycling products and accessories for 27 years, the last 24 in Santa Fe. Offering more than 20,000 items and 300 global brands, BTI supplies bike dealers with a wide variety of components, tools and staple items necessary to successfully run an independent bicycle shop.
“I am often asked, why did you relocate your business to New Mexico? I typically respond that I went to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on student exchange from Oregon. That one semester had a big impact on me. The mild climate with four seasons and vast open spaces were ideal for all of the outdoor activities I enjoy,â€ says CEO Preston Martin.