Las Cruces, New Mexico Metro Spotlight
New Mexico BorderPlex—ROCKET-POWERED DEVELOPMENT
CITY OF LAS CRUCES
• Type of Government: City Manager, City Council
• Councilors/Commissioners: 6 Elected by district
• Leadership: Mayor, Elected at large
• Employees: 1,505
• Police/Sheriff’s Department: 164 Officers
• Other Law Enforcement: Do–a Ana County Sheriff’s Dept., New Mexico State Police
• Fire Department: 123 firefighters
• Fire Insurance Rating: Class 4
• Planning Commission: Yes
• Zoning Regulations: Yes
The BorderPlex Region, comprised of the Las Cruces NM MSA (Do–a Ana County), the El Paso TX MSA and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico is the largest metropolitan area along the U.S.-Mexico border.
This dynamic area is home to more than 2.7 million people and offers unlimited opportunities for business location and expansion. Situated in the middle of the Rio Grande River basin, it offers a superb quality of life with more than 330 days of sunshine and a multitude of recreational and cultural activities.
Since 2000, the Las Cruces NM MSA labor force has grown at twice the national rate in the U.S., and employment has grown at almost three times the national annual average. The Las Cruces area is an aerospace hub that is home to the White Sands Missile Range and Spaceport America, a commercial launch facility.
Year-end reported gross receipts (all industries) for 2007 increased 10.2% over 2006 and retail sales gross receipts increased 12% during the same period. Manufacturing and business services led all sectors with increases ranging from 19.8% to 46.7%.
Spaceport America—Sending Commerce into Outer Space
The nation’s first purpose-built commercial space facility, Spaceport America, is under development 40 miles north of Las Cruces in Southern Sierra County.
Spaceport America will provide commercial space launch services for a wide variety of space-related industries. Construction of the spaceport is funded primarily by the State of New Mexico as well as Do–a Ana County and Sierra County residents, who have passed tax referendums to support the project.
Working together with Virgin Galactic, New Mexico Spaceport Authority unveiled the design of the spaceport in September 2007. Since then, Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with future tenants including Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, UP Aerospace, and Microgravity Enterprises. Pending licensing by the FAA, construction of the main terminal is scheduled to begin in early 2009.
Welcome centers will be built in Hatch (Do–a Ana County), home of world-famous Hatch chile, and Truth or Consequences (Sierra County) from which visitors will be able travel to the spaceport to view launches.
Located just east of Las Cruces, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is the nation’s largest overland joint test and training complex. It covers an area of 3,565 square miles and has the largest restricted air space in the U.S., more than 10,024 square miles, ground to space.
These physical assets, along with its ability to contract with private industry for test and evaluation, make WSMR a natural choice for commercial space ventures associated with Spaceport America, as well as much of the research, development, and testing for the Department of Defense’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) initiative.
An engineering battalion of 750 soldiers will arrive at WSMR this summer, and the Army plans to place a Brigade Combat Team, with up to 3,500 troops, at WSMR by 2013. This expansion is related to the Base Realignment and Closure process which will send nearly 30,000 additional soldiers to neighboring Fort Bliss by 2013.
Due to its expertise and relationship with NASA’s White Sands Test Facility located 17 miles east of Las Cruces, WSMR will be involved in NASA’s planned return to the moon. Construction was recently completed on a new facility that will be used by NASA’s Constellation Program to support tests of the launch abort system that the program is designing for its new spacecraft, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Santa Teresa is a BorderPlex Transportation, Trade Hub
Union Pacific is developing a new 900-acre terminal and intermodal facility four miles west of Santa Teresa that will handle 100,000 containers annually and connect with a Juarez rail by pass and border crossing into Santa Teresa. An expansion of the 1,200-acre Santa Teresa Foreign Trade Zone will allow manufacturers, suppliers and logistics suppliers the opportunity to locate on the US-Mexico border adjacent to the Santa Teresa-San Jeronimo Port of Entry, near Union Pacific’s intermodal facility. Manufacturing firms will be able to establish operations on both sides of the border “within a stone’s throw from each other.”
Rocket Racing League Makes its Home at Las Cruces International Airport
The international Rocket Racing League recently broke ground on the first of its facilities at Las Cruces International Airport, two hangars that will house league aircraft and teams.
The hangars are part of a 20-year lease agreement between the city and the league for six 100,000-square-foot parcels at the airport, the first part of a larger development that will one day house the league’s world headquarters. The League will hold its first exhibition races at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture 2008 in Oshkosh, WI. Also planned is the development of about 170 acres at the West Mesa Industrial Park adjacent to the airport.
Meanwhile, a cooperative agreement has been signed between New Mexico State University and the Federal Aviation Administration that establish the NMSU Flight Test Center as the primary testing site for unmanned aircraft systems.
The Flight Test Center will provide research and development that will establish standard regulations for unmanned aircraft systems, and relevant technology for homeland security, agriculture, defense, and science operations.