New Mexico: Development As A Recreational Activity

New Mexico is moving to create a new Division of Outdoor Recreation, a unit the governor says will boost economic development.

By Donna Clapp
From the March/April 2019 Issue

A bi-partisan effort to boost New Mexico’s outdoor recreation industry with hundreds of new jobs is making its way through the Legislature, according to a New Mexico Economic Development press release.

The measure that creates the New Mexico Division of Outdoor Recreation gained unanimous approval in the New Mexico Senate on March 11, passing 38 to 0. The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives.

The new initiative would create a specific mandate for the New Mexico Economic Development Dept. to work with businesses that cater to outdoor enthusiasts from hikers and hunters to kayakers, skiers, birders and cyclers, according to the release.

New Mexico has the greatest outdoor opportunities in the West, and creating a focused office will attract new businesses and boost existing opportunities across the state,” said Gov. Michedlle Lujan Grisham. “When we create a focused office to both attract new businesses and boost existing concerns, we will plant our flag alongside Colorado, Montana, Utah and others. And indeed we have the potential to surpass them.”

The bill puts the new responsibilities under the state Economic Development Department, and it creates a new director of outdoor recreation.


As the home of New Mexico’s EnergyPlex, Lea County is a place where traditional and renewable energies co-exist to create robust energy sector activity and diversity. Increased interest in Lea County’s advantages manifests in both new people and companies choosing to call Lea County home and creating a diverse and thriving economy.

New Mexico
URENCO USA, a uranium enrichment company that supplies fuel used in nuclear power plants throughout the world, employs nearly 300 at its facility in NM’s EnergyPlex.

As New Mexico’s highest producer of oil, Lea County has helped New Mexico become third in oil production in the United States. Lea County’s production attracts investments from companies such as ExxonMobil, Concho, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Devon Energy, EOG, Occidental and more. More than $8 billion worth of additional investment is planned.

Oil and gas activity in Lea County has attracted numerous oilfield service companies, such as Cactus Wellhead. There are now over 200 oilfield services in Lea County. There is also increased interest from the midstream sector with companies like 3 Bear Energy and Sendero making investments in Lea County. Already located companies continue to see value in Lea County and locating in the oil-rich Permian Basin, with Lucid Energy recently tripling production capacity in their Lea County facility.

The EnergyPlex also encompasses industries such as nuclear, wind, and solar, providing diversity and stability. With North America’s only uranium enrichment facility, URENCO USA, Lea County is a supportive environment for nuclear projects. URENCO’s $4 billion investment has created almost 300 high-wage jobs as well as a safe and secure facility. With the Waste Isolation Power Plant just over the border in Eddy County, and Holtec’s planned interim nuclear storage facility, Lea County embraces diversity in energy.

Investment from companies has led to large growth in all of Lea County, with a population increase of more than 20 percent since 2000. Hobbs, Lea County’s largest city, has a new 160,000-square-foot facility CORE recreational facility.

Lea County offers local incentives such as Industrial Revenue Bonds which offer property tax and gross receipts (sales) tax abatements. Lea County also participates in the state’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) program, which provides funds for site and facility development and has been used to help large investments. Other advantages in Lea County include a skilled workforce that benefits from New Mexico Junior College’s (NMJC) Workforce Training Center, which offers customized training for a variety of industries. NMJC’s workforce training program can be used to create specific courses for companies either on-location or on campus where NMJC has hands-on training equipment for an assortment of industries.

Lea County also offers available land for any industry. Lea County’s largest industrial park, the EnergyPlex Park, features 9,600 acres for development and is suitable for a broad range of industry sectors, including manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, renewables, and more. A Certified Site, EnergyPlex Park features customizable lots for purchase or lease with county—provided water, groundwater access, electric transmission and distribution lines, access roads, and natural gas transmission lines on site. A full Alta Survey, Phase 1 Environmental Site Analysis, solar insolation study, and flood plain study have been completed. Three parcels have been sold to a solar farm that will generate up to 200MW of energy within the park. EnergyPlex Park is only fifteen minutes from Lea County Regional Airport with daily flights on United Airlines; two 4-lane divided U.S. and state highways; railroad access via the Texas New Mexico Railroad; four power plants; and over 30 hotels.

The EnergyPlex has many assets to recommend it to growing and new businesses including incomparable energy resources, a workforce skilled in the complexities of energy production and processing, and strong State and local incentive programs. For more information, visit


New Mexico is a breeding ground for ingenuity, producing some of the most meaningful cultural and technological breakthroughs in history. This is a place that has always been at the forefront of scientific discovery, turning scientific breakthroughs into real-world technology and engineering. From a history of game-changing research within our national laboratories to our incredible creative economy, it’s no wonder Albuquerque has emerged as a hot spot for entrepreneurial activity. We’re leading a vibrant evolution in economic development with our burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem, playing home to a number of incubators, accelerators, makerspaces, coworking spaces, tech transfer initiatives and more.

It’s this convergence of right brain/left brain thinking that is making our city a unique and attractive destination for entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, tech professionals, artists and more. We’re serious about our future, investing in workforce, infrastructure and our many community assets. The investments are generating a different energy that can be seen and felt throughout the city.

Albuquerque is a magnet for talent attraction and retention. This is the kind of place that inspires intrigue, represents possibility and promises a life well-lived. Once people are here, they want to stay. With a population of more than 910,000 people in the metro area, Albuquerque ranks among the top 25 largest metro areas in the nation for cities with the most college graduates per capita (more than 29 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher), and New Mexico has one of the highest concentrations of Ph.D. s in the U.S. Albuquerque also is one of the most diverse cities in the nation. New Mexico is a minority-majority state that reflects what America’s workforce will look like in the coming decades, with a diverse population that embraces a culture of inclusiveness and cohesiveness.

In addition to having a high concentration of educated professionals in a variety of industries, Albuquerque has a pipeline of more than 60,000 college students. The University of New Mexico, the state’s flagship research university, is located in the heart of Albuquerque. Central New Mexico Community College is well-known throughout the country for its flexibility and speed when it comes to supporting employers’ needs. CNM created the STEMulus Center, which houses workforce development opportunities such as coding boot camps, a business accelerator, a community makerspace, a food and beverage institute and more. New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University, Eastern New Mexico University and other colleges are within hours of the city.

Here are some examples of recent employer announcements:

  • Netflix will spend $1 billion over the next decade, hiring approximately 1,000 people annually for film and television productions in the company’s first corporately-owned studio.
  • Intel is actively hiring engineers to support its revolutionary 3D XPoint memory technology.
  • Facebook recently opened a 3 million-square-foot data center campus south of Albuquerque in Los Lunas.
  • TaskUs is bringing nearly 700 new jobs to downtown Albuquerque.
  • Local startup 3D Glass Solutions will invest $23 million and hire 139 new employees, about a third of them engineers.
  • Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (AMRI) is investing $30 million to expand its contract pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities in Albuquerque.
  • Technology firm 2NDGEAR relocated from Los Angeles and will create 100 new jobs at its new home in western Albuquerque.
  • Fidelity Investments employs approximately 1,000 people in Albuquerque and continues to grow.

New Mexico continues to push its business climate to become even more competitive, making economic development a priority to retain and attract jobs and investment long-term. We have put in place sweeping tax reforms that directly support job creators. We offer competitive incentives and access to leadership at all levels of government.

In Albuquerque, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and certainty of operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No damaging floods. No ice to snap power lines. No massive snowfall to shut down roads. No tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes to take you off line. No extreme weather events to prevent employees from making it to work. While companies operating in other locations experience disruptions from natural disasters and weather-related events, it’s business as usual in Albuquerque.

Our quality of place advantage enables us to attract the best and the brightest from around the world. Our workforce chooses employment based on career objectives and the type of work they wish to do, without the need to make lifestyle compromises. We regularly hear from major employers that their New Mexico operations provide higher retention, better performance and lower costs than their other global sites.

There’s no soul-crushing commute (the average commute time is 25 minutes), giving employees more time to work and play. Albuquerque’s cost of living is below the national average and housing in particular remains affordable.