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Metro Spotlight: Albuquerque, NM


Albuquerque: Colonial Past, Sustainable Future

Dubbed the “Land of Enchantment,” Albuquerque is an arid, sunny metropolis of about 840,000 people, making it New Mexico’s most populous city. Spread over four counties in the heart of the state, Albuquerque’s essence is difficult to define-both the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande run through the city, a former Spanish colonial outpost set within the Chihuahuan Desert. But today, Albuquerque has a modern face thanks to its central location in New Mexico’s Technology Corridor, home to Sandia National Laboratories, Intel, and soon, Hewlett Packard. Sustainable energy also is part of the city’s forward-thinking outlook; 20% of Albuquerque’s electricity is drawn from wind turbines, and a cluster of renewable energy companies has formed in Mesa del Sol, a master-planned community in southern Albuquerque. SCHOTT AG, a German solar power company, recently broke ground there, which is a smart move since the sun shines over Albuquerque more than 300 days per year.

Getting Around ABQ

Albuquerque MSA Population: 840,000
Labor Force: 407,921
Employment: 392,965
Unemployment: 14,956
NM Unemployment Rate: 3.7%
U.S. Unemployment Rate: 5.5%
Source: New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, May 2008

The Albuquerque metropolitan area is serviced by two interstate highways, I-25 and I-40. The local transit agency, ABQ RIDE, operates a series of city buses, while a commuter rail line called the New Mexico Rail Runner Express has serviced Albuquerque since 2006. A rail extension linking to Santa Fe, NM is expected to be finished by the end of 2008. For jet setters, Albuquerque International Sunport is just three miles from the central business district. Also, Double Eagle II Airport is available for both charter and private flights.

Rio Rancho Says Howdy to Hewlett

Hewlett-Packard announced in June plans to open a technical support center in Rio Rancho, a growing city within Albuquerque’s MSA. Several hundred workers will be hired when the center opens, and the workforce could swell to 1,300 employees by 2012.

“This is one of the most significant economic development agreements we’ve ever made,” says New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. The state has offered the computer giant a bevy of financial incentives that could total $40 million. The largest portion of incentives-$20 to $30 million-would come from New Mexico’s high-wage jobs tax credit program, while the remaining $10 million would come in the form of job training initiatives. Richardson also will lobby the state legislature to approve $12 million in funding to help offset infrastructure costs.

The center could open by next summer, though an exact location has not been determined. Rio Rancho’s officials expect the site to fall within its 160-acre central business district. Salaries for the new jobs are expected to average $45,000 annually. Most of the employees will be hired from the local area, according to Jon Flaxman, Hewlett-Packard’s executive VP.

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