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High Plains Processing Eyes Beef Processing Plant in Las Vegas, New Mexico

High Plains Processing, a Colorado-based company, is expanding operations with the opening of a meat processing business in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

According to the New Mexico Economic Development Department, the company is investing $1.6 million to refurbish the vacant facility with modern equipment, ventilation, waste collection, receiving, and refrigeration. High Plains plans to begin operations in the second half of 2020 and hire 20 employees over the next three years.

Owners Joanna and Chip Meston, a Colorado ranching couple, see the expansion into New Mexico as a way to integrate their business and provide processing services throughout the northeast part of the state, state economic development officials said.

"We will rebound from this pandemic and revitalize better than ever before because of strategic state investments and willing partners who want to be here," Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said.

High Plains has identified restaurant, hospitality, and retail consumer markets in Asia and the United States for its products. “New Mexico has a widespread and healthy livestock industry,” Chip Meston said. “There are a lot of people who want to see this business succeed. We will be a value-added business in a community that values agriculture.”

Johanna Meston is an anesthesiologist and the business is particularly mindful during construction to take precautions during the COVID-19 health emergency. State officials said the Mestons are still optimistic the business can open by summer.

The state of New Mexico pledged $100,000 from its LEDA closing fund to assist the business with land, building, and infrastructure improvements.“We are seeing an uptick of companies that want to be in New Mexico," Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes of the Economic Development Department said. "It's more important than ever that we can still offer LEDA investments to help them grow and expand."

"Northeast New Mexico has a rich tradition of grazing and ranching," Keyes added, "and this investment will not only help create jobs in Las Vegas, but also give family ranches more options as they look to diversify and sustain an agricultural lifestyle.”

San Miguel County is the fiscal agent for the LEDA grant. “San Miguel County is excited that the facility will soon have new life. It will provide a much needed service and economic boost to the county, which will ultimately have a positive impact to the entire northeastern portion of the state,” Planning and Zoning Supervisor Alex Tafoya said.

The Mestons, owners of Fifteen Mile Ranch in Bennett, Colorado, said the Las Vegas location is a good fit for their expansion because of its proximity to Interstate 25 and nearby ranches. New Mexico’s incentives, labor force, and overall business climate will give them an opportunity to compete in a global market that is seeing significant demand for high quality beef products.

“Livestock production continues to be an important economic driver across New Mexico. This new value-added processing facility will enhance our ability to increase locally-sourced beef for our consumers and provide marketing options for our producers,” New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte said. “This is another important value-added economic development opportunity that is a priority for this administration.”

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