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New Mexico Soars With Aerospace, Entertainment, and Technology Investment

Aug/Sep 08
"Fiscal year 2008 has been a most successful year in economic development," says Fred Mondragon, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Economic Development Department. "We have recruited more jobs in the last six months than we have in the last six years."

 Targeted industries include aerospace, nanotechnology, microtechnology, microsystems, information technology, alternative energy, and financial services such as call centers and technical support. Unemployment has hit record lows, posted at 3. 8 percent in May. Mondragon notes, "Our unemployment rate is less than the national level, so we are feeling very good about our recruitment efforts and growing industries."

In aerospace, Eclipse Aviation "is producing one plane per day; they are in production mode with 1,700 employees," says Mondragon. "As a result of their success, we have received inquiries from suppliers and other aircraft manufacturing companies." Mondragon also reports progress on Spaceport America. "We have the preliminary design and expect to go to bid this summer and break ground early in 2009," he says, adding that negotiations are underway with Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic to be the SpacePort's principal tenant.

Mondragon credits much of the film industry's success to Governor Bill Richardson, who established the film commission and instituted targeted incentives such as a 25 percent film production tax rebate and the Film Investment Loan Program, which offers interest-free loans of up to $15 million per qualifying project. "Five years ago, we had a couple of films a year," he says. "Now, 70 productions have or are taking place. In dollar volume from direct expenditures by the film industry, we will hit about $650 million in investment that contributes to about 2,000 jobs on an ongoing basis."

In alternative energy, Advent Solar in Mesa Del Sol is developing technologies transferred from Sandia National Laboratories. "Recently, the governor led a delegation to Spain, Germany, Israel, and Egypt to discuss possible alternative energy investments in New Mexico," says Mondragon.