Given the general state of our economy, I am still looking forward to 2014 and what it could bring southern New Mexico. We weathered the storm of the recent recession better than some places. That isn’t to say there weren’t people and businesses impacted during it, there were.
Thanks to MVEDA, there continues to be activity in Las Cruces and the county. It’s great to see construction projects under way as it is a source of gross receipts tax revenue and a sign outside businesses see the area as an attractive place to locate.
There are two major projects coming on line in 2014: Spaceport America and the Union Pacific intermodal. Those two facilities alone represent approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars in investment to our region. While that number is hard to grasp, it will be the second phases of these projects that will touch the county.
The Spaceport will need support and maintenance services once flights begin and the impact from a tourism perspective should be huge. In the southern part of the county, I would expect to see a number of new businesses locate in order to take advantage of the Union Pacific facility.
Let’s also discuss what the military will bring to Las Cruces this year. The Navy is returning to the Las Cruces Airport for its training exercise after a one-year hiatus. That program not only supports the hotel/restaurant industry, but many other businesses as the duration of their visit extends for multiple months.
In addition, this spring’s Network Integration Evaluation at White Sands Missile Range has been beefed up by almost 2,000 additional contractors including a foreign contingent that has never been a part of this testing exercise.
We feel that these opportunities are real and that our area must be poised to take advantage of them, enough so that we are realigning our Small & Minority Business Council to find ways to support these initiatives. Look for more information on this topic in the first quarter of the year.
Bill Allen, President/CEO Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce