Recently, the announcement of Franco Whole Foods soon occupying a West Amador warehouse may signal movement for more well-paying manufacturing jobs heading to town.
The company will be moving into the city’s fourth district where City Councilor, Nathan Small serves. Small says he has been working to bring more manufacturing jobs to the city. He says that special incentives offered through state and city government helped lure Franco Whole Foods to the area.
“There was a seventy-five thousand dollar commitment from the state of New Mexico through their Economic Development Department, matched with an equal commitment up to seventy-five thousand dollars from the City of Las Cruces under our economic development act,” says Small.
There are minimum requirements for a company to be able to qualify for assistance from the city of Las Cruces. For example, a company must invest three dollars for every dollar of public investment. There must be a minimum of 1 job per $10,000 to $30,000 in assistance (which can vary depending on salary), and the project must be completed within 2 years.
The location was also very attractive to the company according to small. The facility is close to the two major highways, rail, and also is close to a new bus hub located downtown. The new Mesilla Valley Transit Terminal offers an opportunity for future employees in the area to ensure a ride to work.
“So, it’s easy to get products to and from markets and it’s becoming easier to get people to and from jobs locally in our community,” says Small.
The arrival of these 160 manufacturing jobs heading to the area is not only positive news for the city, but also good news for the state that ranks low in comparison to others in manufacturing jobs.
This past April, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics ranked states and the District of Columbia according to the percentage of manufacturing jobs in total non-farm employment. New Mexico ranked 48th at 3.2 percent. Indiana tops the list at 16.9 percent followed by Wisconsin at 16.3 percent and Iowa at 13.9 percent.
Statewide the numbers do not get much better. According the New Mexico Labor Market Review of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, over the year growth rates in May 2014 labor market data shows Las Cruces was down 200 manufacturing jobs with a loss of 7.4 percent. In comparison Albuquerque lost 800 jobs during the same time, with a loss of 4.6 percent.
Recent announcements of new private sector jobs may bring some hope for a community that relies heavily on public sector jobs.