PAID CANVASSING POSITIONS AVAILABLE
Work starts immediately. Flexible day/evening hours.
Canvassers are needed to gather signatures for marijuana decriminalization campaigns in ABQ and Santa Fe.
After completing a brief training and background check, canvassers will work with a team leader to target public events, high-traffic areas and targeted neighborhoods to gather signatures to put marijuana decriminalization ordinances on the November ballot in both cities.
Paid at $1/signature. Minimum 4 hours of work per day. Canvassers average over 100 signatures per day – can you do better?
Contact Rachael at ProgressNowNM for more info about work in ABQ and Santa Fe.
The first Operation Soundstage orientation for Veterans interested in working in the State’s Film Industry will be held this Friday, November 15, 2013, from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM in Albuquerque.
Though not a requirement to participate in the Operation Soundstage program, in which the state will reimburse part of the wages of a veteran being trained as a crew member by a film or television production in New Mexico, the list of veterans and reserve component members who complete the orientation workshop will be submitted to participating companies.
To enroll in the first Operation Soundstage orientation, email the NMFO info@nmfilm .com and provide the following information:
First and Last Name
NM City/Community of Residence
Type of Government Issued Military ID and correlating ID. No.
There is limited seating so you must confirm registration with Sherry England.
You must also be registered with New Mexico Workforce Connection.
For questions about NMWC, email Chris Zafra.
DATE: Friday, November 15, 2013
TIME: Sign-in begins at 1pm, workshop takes place between 1:30PM to 3:30PM
On August 1, 2013 Governor Susana Martinez announced the formation of a pilot program to put military veterans to work on movie and TV productions in New Mexico.
The veterans movie production program is a multi-state agency partnership which aims to increase the hiring and training of military veterans for productions by movie studios and television production companies here in New Mexico.
Governor Martinez announced the new program, “Operation: Soundstage”, before a crowd of veterans and National Guard members at the New Mexico National Guard Armory in Albuquerque. “Movie and television productions offer job opportunities that are great matches for the skill sets our veterans learn through their service in the military,” said the Governor. “As a result of their military training, veterans can lead or take orders–and know the value of the teamwork required by movie makers on any given project.” Governor Martinez explained.
The New Mexico Film Office, through the Jobs Training Initiative Program, currently finances training that helps New Mexico crew members advance their education and become qualified for new crew jobs. These funds are only available for a limited number of positions for each production.
Martinez says, “Operation: Soundstage will add an additional position on each production to be filled specifically by a New Mexico veteran.” Operation: Soundstage will also help ensure that veterans who are eligible for the G.I. Bill will be able to access film-career development programs offered at several New Mexico colleges.
Military veterans provide an excellent pool of skilled and talented professionals who would be ideal to fill “off-camera” job openings such as carpenters, electricians, editors, technicians, production assistants, makeup artists, caterers, drivers and dozens of other positions typically needed for television and movie projects.
The announcement comes on the heels of the latest data released by the U.S. Department of Labor which shows the national unemployment rate of veterans between the ages of 18-24 at a startling 20.5%–compared to the overall June national unemployment rate of 7.6%.
Governor Martinez also pointed out the financial incentives available to any employer who hires unemployed veterans:
· A $2,400 federal business tax credit for employers hiring veterans who’ve been unemployed for at least four weeks.
· $5,600 for veterans who are unemployed at least six months.
· Up to a $9,600 credit for certain service-connected disabled veteran
· $2,400 for each hiring of a veteran who receives Supplemental Food Assistance (―Food Stamps‖)
· The Governor also mentioned the state law she signed last year which gives up to a $1,000 state business tax credit for each hiring of a recently-returned veteran.
“Veterans make a great fit for production companies working here in New Mexico,” said Governor Martinez. Veterans have sacrificed to serve our country and have already proved that they have earned the chance to be considered for any job availabilities here at home.
While states with a smattering of recent film successes and some with storied old classics under their belt have taken their turns at film tourism and tale spinning; the desert gem of global film production now comes to the forefront of film fan experiences by unleashing the power partnership of the magical nuances of visiting our great state with an unparallelled production history.
On Monday the New Mexico Tourism Department and the New Mexico Film Office announced the power partnership of two of the state’s most valuable resources – Tourism and Film.
New Mexico “Film Trails” marries the treasure trove of the state’s unique landscapes and experiences with the only place in the world where Walter White meets The Lone Ranger and at any given moment a cavalcade of Oscar winners pepper the state. Although the local film industry has ebbed and flowed with the impact of a seismic BOOM in recent decades, New Mexico isn’t exactly new to this rodeo with a filmography dating back to 1897.
Let the New Mexico “every man’s” economic prosperity boon skyrocket along with the traveling global recognition of New Mexico as America’s ultimate film travel destination!
Reel Working America is a joint project with Working America and IATSE 480 (The Film Technician’s Union) – it is the new home for working people in the film industry.
The goal is to give independent film makers, film students, and others aspiring to be in this exciting business a voice on the issues that affect the film industry and an opportunity to work collectively to influence the process.
Come voice your thoughts and ideas for the future of New Mexico Film in the first Reel Working America meeting of the year!
Also on the agenda is frank discussion on current legislation to help improve the film industry and the ways you can get involved with the always exciting annual Film and Media Day at the legislature on February 22, 2013.
Organizers strongly encourage you to invite any friends and family members who might also be interested in attending. Food and refreshments will be provided.
“I’m still receiving inquiries about my thoughts on studies. As I said in my plan, the problem with studies is that it depends on who performs them. I can give you the results right now. If you believe it’s government’s function to create jobs, then film is one of, if not the, most dynamic programs in the country. If you believe that everything government does must create more tax revenue than it spends, then film doesn’t work. How we go about building roads or educating our kids on the basis of the return to the treasury is a complete mystery to me but that is the argument that is made. While conspiracy theorists believe the Governor’s office want a study released in 2014 when she’s running for reelection, I believe the film office is trying to figure out how to do it as fairly and equitably as possible while satisfying both of these constituencies. I’d be disappointed if politics took precedence over jobs.
We as a business mustn’t fall into the trap of calling these tax credits “subsidies.” We know they are not and if we use that word it becomes common practice. It’s what is happening in the New Mexican, and even fair and unbiased journalists like those at KUNM are using the Republican language. They don’t say oil and gas subsidies, solar subsidies or cheese subsidies; they call them tax credits. If you have the time write, email, or tweet press outlets when you see them use the term “subsidies” and let’s try to reframe the debate.”
This bill [HB379] is our first attempt at something the legislature can pass and the Governor will sign. It will probably not be the final version. There are a couple of amendments and the possibility of a committee sub but at least you can now see the way we are going. The first thing we really need to deal with is the roll over. If we wrote $9 million in checks in a year that we did $225 million in business, there is $30 million missing which we need to recapture. We’re still working on language around the vendor issue to be amended or substituted in. The Film Office has similar issues. We wanted to send a clear signal that we want to increase TV to 30% and give a talking point for conversations that people can pursue with their legislators.
The thinking is this: we have a number of pilots shooting here then returning to California and our big competition (Louisiana and Georgia) are both at 30%. We’d like to get that figure into the discussion for NM. As we all know, nothing provides stable, long term employment like a TV series. We’ve got a pretty good industry consensus and we’re working on the Governor’s office. Here we go!
New Mexico Labor Federation President, IATSE Local 480 Business Agent
“If you want jobs and want them now, rewrite the motion picture incentive regulations to make them simple and clear. Make the tax credits easier to lend against. Exempt TV series since they create long term employment and reach out to potential projects to assure them we want and need them and will do what it takes to help them make their pictures here.”
Working America and IATSE (the film technicians union) have partnered to create a new home for working people in the film industry, Reel Working America.
The film, television and multimedia industries are the future jobs for many Americans in an industry that has a higher percentage of workers represented by Unions and Guilds than any other. Reel Working America gives independent film makers and others aspiring to be in this exciting business a voice and a forum on the broader issues of the day and an opportunity to work collectively to influence the process.
As a member of Reel Working America, you’ll be part of the movement to protect the middle class and worker’s rights across the country.
Together, we’ll fight for…
Ensuring that our families have access to good quality health care
Protect our jobs here at home
Making sure that our retirement will be there for us when we need it
Giving our children the best possible education
Holding corporations accountable
Want to be a part of it? Fill out this form and become a member of Reel Working America.
Like taxes, completed annual reports from YOUR state government agencies are currently due out to the public. Of utmost interest to this bloggette are where the numbers shake out for New Mexico Film.
If you too want to know what the official reports say regarding the state film industry, click here for the full 2012 “Performance Measures Report & Program Highlights” from the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD), parent department of the New Mexico State Film Office.
For ease of reference, here are all the points made in the annual review regarding the film industry:
The New Mexico Film Office (NMFO) has completed a successful year working to assist productions with the financial aspects of their projects and guiding them through incentives, such as the Film Production 25 percent Tax Rebate and the Film Investment Loan Program. NMFO worked diligently in FY12 to help connect productions with industry-related organizations, businesses and communities throughout New Mexico. Another measure of success came from the noteworthy development of several new initiatives. What follows are NMFO highlights from FY12:
In the fall of 2011, the New Mexico Film Office Director met with 18 studios and production entities in Los Angeles to review New Mexico’s film incentives. As a result, NMFO saw an increase in inquiries from production entities.
In support of additional marketing, the New Mexico Film Office assisted the City of Santa Fe in representing New Mexico at the Sundance and South by SouthWest Film Festivals, by providing information and photographs on New Mexico film locations and other state industry resources. NMFO also attended the Locations Tradeshow in Los Angeles in June, and was successful in marketing New Mexico to Los Angeles producers, generating the submission of over nine scripts to NMFO for location assistance.
* Because the New Mexico 9000 Program was in flux, the goal of 15 was not
reached in FY12.
The Film Crew Advancement Program (FCAP), available through the Job Training Incentive Program, serves as an incentive for participating companies to provide more job opportunities for New Mexicans in primarily technical film positions.
• In FY12, eleven companies and twenty-three New Mexicans
The Pre-Employment Workshop Training Program, also available through the Job Training Incentive Program, serves as means to increase qualified manpower for this industry.
• In FY12, eight workshops were conducted and one-hundred
and twenty-two New Mexicans attended
Digital and Emerging Media
A newly developed Pre-Employment Training Program for Emerging Media was approved by the JTIP board. This program will assist New Mexican students in post-production related film programs (available through higher education institutions in New Mexico) to gain experience with emerging media companies while incentivizing these companies to relocate or expand in New Mexico.
NMFO established a contract to research digital and emerging media and the potential benefits to the New Mexico economy. “Emerging media” is having a profound influence on the world’s healthcare delivery system and research laboratories, such as Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratories. In addition, experts predict that the billion dollar industry of digital media game development will be the fastest growing form of media in the next decade. Currently 55 percent of all colleges and universities in the U.S. have instituted mobile applications software as a way to interact with their students.
Town Halls were coordinated in F12 that provided regional forums, free and open to the public, to discuss industry-related inquiries.
They were held in Gallup, Farmington, Las Cruces, Raton, Roswell and Ruidoso. A casting session was added to Raton’s Town Hall to assist New Mexicans in contacting local casting directors. Town Halls will commence again in FY13 in conjunction with regional liaison meetings.
The New Mexico Film Office continues to support and grow the Statewide Film Liaison Network. Communities and tribes designate individuals to assist and prepare their area for a variety of industry activities. Formal letters that were sent to chambers, local governments and tribal entities helped to continue to increase the number of state film liaisons in rural areas of New Mexico. The annual meeting of liaisons takes place in July of each year. The First Annual Education Summit will be held in September of 2012. New Mexico colleges and universities offering programs in film, digital media or emerging media technologies will have the opportunity to come together to network and share their stories at this Summit.
A newly developed Pre-Employment Training Program for Emerging Media was approved by the JTIP board. This program will assist New Mexican students in post-production related film programs (available through higher education institutions in New Mexico) to gain experience with emerging media companies while incentivizing these companies to relocate or expand in New Mexico. NMFO established a contract to research digital and emerging media and the potential benefits to the New Mexico economy. “Emerging media” is having a profound influence on the world’s healthcare delivery system and research laboratories, such as Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratories. In addition, experts predict that the billion dollar industry of digital media game development will be the fastest growing form of media in the next decade. Currently 55 percent of all colleges and universities in the U.S. have instituted mobile applications software as a way to interact with their students.
To increase awareness of the success of the film industry in New Mexico, the New Mexico Film Office developed thematic categories and plans for interactive maps of statewide filming locations to be made available for public download. Ultimately, this initiative will provide an economic tracking tool to promote and support film tourism. NMFO has requested collaboration with the Department of Tourism to determine regional touring itineraries. Studio assistance has already been confirmed to market this initiative. A prototype map was completed and plans to further develop this initiative have been scheduled for FY13.
Additional NMFO numbers and information can be found in these select pages of the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s 2012 Q4, Quarterly Report.
THIS Q4 report includes NMEDD finalized numbers and measures, including the recently publicized $224.6M being reported as direct spending from the industry into the state economy (pg. 18) New Mexico Film performance measures such as; Number of media industry worker days, Economic impact of media industry productions in New Mexico (in millions), Number of films^ media projects principally photographed in New Mexico, Number of major film productions made in New Mexico greater than $1M.
IATSE Local 480 and Reel Working America are hosting a Legislative strategy meeting on Jan. 12th to prepare for the upcoming session.
It is important that all parties with an interest in film have a chance to voice their concerns and opinions as we formulate a plan to move ahead.
Please plan to join us and share this notice with your friends, family and neighbors who have an interest in the film business in NM.
WHAT: 2013 Legislative Strategy Session
DATE: Saturday, January 12, 2013
PLACE: Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe (next door to the union). Parking is on Taos street behind the building.
New Mexico Film & Media Day is Friday, February 22nd, 2013.
But first, in preparation for this year’s state legislative session, IATSE Local 480 will be hosting a town hall meeting.
This “2013 Legislative Strategy Session” will be held on January 12th, where the objective will be to discuss the upcoming legislative session stance and handling of the New Mexico Film Industry going into the new year and beyond!
Industry enthusiasts are asked to contribute their creative ideas for activities and exhibitions to engage both attendees and elected officials at this year’s Film & Media Day; Suggestions and submissions that would involve the general public, legislators and their staffs, highlighting film trades, education, hardware/software, gizmos and events are encouraged and appreciated.
Join the conversation regarding the future of your Film Industry in New Mexico!
OPEN TO ALL! Great company, complimentary food, and brainstorming – GET INTO IT!
January 12th at 1 p.m.
Center for Progress and Justice 1420 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87121
POINT via Ann Lerner, City of Albuquerque Film Liaison:
The film industry is alive and well in Albuquerque.
We’ve seen a variety of film activity in the area this year. “In Plain Sight” finished Season 5, filming out at I-25 Studios and on location around town. “Breaking Bad” shot eight episodes of Season 5, and will be back in December for eight more episodes. “The Last Stand,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, filmed in Downtown Albuquerque in January. (Watch the trailer to see an impressive stunt across the intersection of Fifth and Marquette.)
And, oh yes, the largest movie being made in the world this year, “The Lone Ranger,” chose Albuquerque Studios as its home for offices and sets and built two western towns out by the Rio Puerco, filming here for months.
“2 Guns” just wrapped, “Lone Survivor” starts filming in October for nine weeks. Two other films will be shooting this fall as well.
Numerous independent filmmakers are making low-budget projects – from features, to shorts, to webisodes.
So why do people like to film in Albuquerque? Besides the 310 days of sunshine, no natural disasters, close proximity to Los Angeles, an easy-to-use film tax incentive and a strong film crew base, we have a world-class infrastructure of stages, equipment companies, suppliers and businesses relating to the movie industry.
And Albuquerque can double for many different location looks – we can be Cincinnati (“Wild Hogs”); Munich (“Beer Fest”); Mexico border crossing (“2 Guns”); Los Angeles (“Crash TV”); New York (“The Resident”).
But I think a large part of the reason people like to film in Albuquerque is because of the open reception filmmakers receive from neighborhoods and businesses and the administration.
We offer one-stop film-permitting. We recognize that filming dates may change due to weather or illness or some other factor and are flexible.
Our filming guidelines require production companies to limit the number of large vehicles in a neighborhood and provide notification of filming dates and times. We have a program asking productions to give $100 to the neighborhood association for each day of filming. To date, over $60,000 has been raised.
We respect the production companies and welcome them for bringing in new money and providing well-paying and creative jobs for our citizens.
Production companies respect our highly skilled labor force and willingness to allow filming in the area.
Our reputation is strong. The Film Office is busy reading scripts and leading location scouts for potential future work. We’re issuing permits. Our phones are ringing.
Thank you for keeping Albuquerque film friendly!
COUNTERPOINT via Jon Hendry, President New Mexico Federation of Labor:
Our film liaisons are a hidden treasure.
The hard work of such great people as Ann Lerner in ABQ, Jan Wafful in Alamogordo, and Lisa Van Allen in Santa Fe, along with a dozen others around the state who back up the New Mexico Film Office and do great work in their communities, is a huge part of our industry success. I believe that Ann’s excellent editorial in today’s Journal speaks highly of her office, her pride in the community, and the effect that we in film have had on so many ancillary businesses. Bravo!
However, I respectfully disagree on the state of the NM film business. When 50/1 wraps, there will be slim pickings for NM crews through Breaking Bad‘s final eight episodes. While Lone Survivor is trying hard to employ as many locals as they can, for technical reasons they have to bring in more crew than we would like in fields where we are not strong. Hopefully, that is something we can all address in the future. One film can’t carry more than 1000 qualified technicians plus actors, stunt people, drivers, PA’s, and the host of others who have come to rely on this business. Rumors of an eminent super-hero movie only help a little, since we know that the vast majority of key or best boy positions will not go to locals. While they may fill hotel rooms, rent cars, and buy lumber, these kinds of movies don’t always help the working crew. We can’t expect micro budget pictures to pay comparable rates or the benefits we need; that’s ok, bring them on, we appreciate them, but it’s not the road to full employment.
As well as things are going, the warning lights are also flashing, and I believe we’re reaching that critical area where we need to deal with these situations in the upcoming legislative session. After two years we know what works and what doesn’t. My suggestions follow. On most I think you’ll find general industry consensus and on others some dissension, but I think we’ll find some suggestions that the legislature can agree with and that will allow the taxpayers to feel they are getting a good return on their investment.
1) We need to return to the original legislative intent of $50 million. In order to do that we need a cost of living increase as we’re the only “capped incentive”. That is going to seem extremely moderate now but we need the protection for the hyper inflation that may occur and could basically wipe us out of the business. By doing so we ensure that in real dollars the $50 million stays constant.
2) TV series employ more New Mexicans in all facets of the business than anything else, and we need to give them the certainty they will get their money when they make a commitment to us which could be up to five years. I’m open to suggestions on how we do this but I think the way is to exempt them from the cap.
3) We need to make some technical changes in the language of that rather rushed bill that allows a rollover of unused credits that we can accumulate as we already have a substantial balance from the last few years and a payout of $50 million. There is no reason for it to be staggered if we have the money. Sitting on it doesn’t help anyone, especially the state budget process.
4) We need to set up a system that, when Tax & Rev has approved a rebate, picture companies can monetize this. I believe the private banking system can look at doing this. I also believe some of us in NM might contribute to a fund that would not only give a return but help us get more pictures and, most importantly, ABQ, Bernalillo County, SF city & counties, Alamogordo, and Otero County could look to their bonding capacity to help this occur. It would be very useful if we could put this money in to the project while they are still here shooting and spending money and not two years down the road when they are long gone. Alaska is looking at a cash flow model, private funds can move much quicker than governmental entities, but Tax & Rev would have to come up with a certification program.
5) Perhaps most controversially, I think we need to do much, much more to ensure that the companies generating the rebates for the production entities are NM based and the money stays in the state. It’s almost a game to figure out how to make out of state people and equipment and other purchases rebateable. We shouldn’t be asking Tax & Rev to play “whack a mole”. When we solve one issue another pops up and that’s not good. We thought the bricks and mortar requirement solved this but in some cases it made it worse. I want to be able to say with hand on my heart that we rebate no one from out of state and we keep the money here where it was generated and where it’s needed. Any perception that this is welfare for Hollywood isn’t good. This should be a legislative priority.
I’m open to other suggestions. What I can’t work with is a situation where on the top end we’re being squeezed by the amount of money we can put out and on the bottom end we are squeezed because these companies are employing fewer New Mexicans and spending more money with large chains who don’t pay taxes here or out of state companies are working through facilitators instate that help them get an undeserved rebate. If anyone else feels we’re doing sensationally well I am happy, after ensuring confidentiality, to share payroll figures with you – it’s not great.
ALBUQUERQUE – CBS Affiliate, KRQE News is looking for a dynamic news person with exceptional reporting experience to anchor our morning newscasts on the weekends. In addition to anchoring, you will also perform the duties of a multi-media journalist three days per week.
A minimum of 1 – 3 years of experience anchoring a newscast or reporting is required.
Ideal candidates will have solid reporting skills, possess excellent news judgment and have the ability to find unique hard hitting enterprise news stories.
If you’re looking to get your first anchoring job or jump up from a small market, this is the position for you.
To apply, email your resume & include a web link of your most recent newscast to Erika Gonzales, Business Administrator at email@example.com or mail to:
KRQE-TV (Weekend Morning Anchor/Reporter)
13 Broadcast Plaza SW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Is there a wager somewhere within the sitting administration, or a race between gov. agencies on how fast New Mexico dollars can be sent out of state?
Unfortunately, as we’ve already told you here, here, and here…Indigenous services from Film Production to Web Design and all those creative links inbetween continue to receive the proverbial SMACK DOWN from government agencies sending New Mexico Monies anywhere but here!
This time, your tax dollars are being outsourced to the far Northeast all the way to the land of the Cunucks, for the production of state anti-smoking ads. Fed-up filmmakers say:
“They’re at it Again…Much to our exasperation the State is again spending money on out of state production companies.
I don’t get it, wasn’t a front page story in the ABQ Journal enough to get them to spend our money locally? There is an anti-smoking commercial for the Depart of Health being shot this weekend with a minimal crew because they “can’t afford” to hire people on their budget. Really? They can afford to use a NY/Canadian production company. There is no reason why this money is not being spent locally.
We’re perfectly capable of doing our own spots. What’s it going to take before the Martinez administration stops shipping our money out of state?
To quote myself just a few moments ago when a fellow New Mexican sent over the news that a whopping $180,000 New Mexico Tax dollar payment has been APPROVED to go out of state, “ARE YOU FK’N KIDDING ME!?!”
From the state department who brought you a whites/light skinned casting call for a New Mexico commercial shoot, helmed by a Texas firm, produced by a California company for a $2M NM price tag comes the latest development to further New Mexico Tourism.
KRQE reports that the state Tourism department is again citing their own arbitrary ratings system to award our tax dollars elsewhere – this time to Missouri, the “show me state”.
“The department paid $180,000 to a Missouri-based company, MMGY, to redesign its decade-old website.”
Perhaps the underlying goal of this administration’s Tourism Department is to send as much New Mexico money out of state, employing hundreds of people anywhere but here…to encourage them to visit?
Jump to 1:20 for the flag that New Mexico state government is flying to say, “GO AWAY” to film jobs.
In a poor state whose leader endorses corporate loopholes over local business, whose political action committee is funded primarily by another state’s special interests, the vilification of one of the most hopeful, vibrant and sustainable industries ever built here, rolls on.
It’s become standard practice for this administration to spit balk in the face of local film talent and support businesses, and now the slow bloodletting has a new face and a name.
Flying in the face of the world is, in a name, “a New Mexico film study“. A better face for the promotion and growth of the state’s economy is and always has been Mr. Bryan Cranston.
The majority of the WORLD is unaware of New Mexico and those who have heard of us think we’re part of South America; except for the several MILLION who have been exposed to our previously top ranked spot in the good ol’ U.S-of-A for film production.
Talking directly to the point of what brought just one, globally acclaimed, beloved television production into our midst and our small business, tourism, talent, education and charitable organization bank accounts is the one and only Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad.
So while our government shells out some absurd amount of time and money on a tailored hex upon our film industry, productions will continue to go away and the obvious will be stated elsewhere.
UNLESS YOU SPEAK-UP and SPEAK OUT New Mexico! Cranston & Co. can’t do it all…
As we’ve been following for you here, the AP now reports:
HOBBS, NM – A scientific ghost town in the heart of southeastern New Mexico oil and gas country will hum with the latest next-generation technology _ but no people.
A $1 billion city without residents will be developed in Lea County near Hobbs, officials said Tuesday, to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets.
Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said the unique research facility that looks like an empty city will be a key for diversifying the economy of the nearby community, which after the oil bust of the 1980s saw bumper stickers asking the last person to leave to turn out the lights.
“It brings so many great opportunities and puts us on a world stage,” Cobb told The Associated Press before the announcement.
Pegasus Holdings and its New Mexico subsidiary, CITE Development, said Hobbs and Lea County beat out Las Cruces, for the Center for Innovation, Technology and Testing.
The CITE project is being billed as a first-of-its kind smart city, or ghost town of sorts, that will be developed on about 15 square miles west of Hobbs.
Bob Brumley, senior managing director of Pegasus Holdings, said the town will be modeled after the real city of Rock Hill, S.C., complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new. No one will live there, although they could as houses will include all the necessities, like appliances and plumbing.
The point of the town is to enable researchers to test new technologies on existing infrastructure without interfering in everyday life. For instance, while some researchers will be testing smart technologies on old grids, others might be using the streets to test self-driving cars.
“The only thing we won’t be doing is destructive testing, blowing things up _ I hope,” said Brumley.
Not far from the Texas border, Hobbs has seen new growth in recent years but local leaders have been pushing to expand the area’s reputation to include economic development ventures beyond the staple of oil and gas.
The investors developing CITE were looking for open spaces. Brumley said his group scoured the country for potential sites, “but we kept coming back to New Mexico. New Mexico is unique in so many ways.”
One big plus for New Mexico was its federal research facilities like White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico and Los Alamos and Sandia national labs.
Gov. Susana Martinez joined officials in announcing final site selection for the project, which she hailed as “one of the most unique and innovative” economic development projects the state has seen. She noted that no tax breaks were given for the development. “The only thing they have asked for is guidance,” she said.
Brumley said plans are to break ground on the town by June 30. The initial development cost is estimated at $400 million, although Brumley estimates the overall investment in the project to top $1 billion.
The project is expected to create 350 permanent jobs and about 3,500 indirect jobs in its design, development, construction and ongoing operational phases.
Hobbs, a community of about 43,000 people, currently has two non-stop flights from Houston each day and is working on getting daily service to Albuquerque and Denver.
The mayor said discussions for the new flights have just started but having the research center may bolster efforts to connect Hobbs to more cities.