LAS CRUCES – Artico Cold Management, a Chicago-based startup, is promising to employ up to 60 people at a new facility in Las Cruces' industrial park once construction is completed. It could help local businesses expand and hire more workers as well.
The company will erect a 120,000-square foot cold storage warehouse in the Las Cruces Innovation and Industrial Park off of Interstate 10 just south of the city airport. It is one of several facilities Artico plans to build in North America.
The New Mexico Economic Development Department announced the $30 million investment in Las Cruces on Wednesday in a deal that includes nearly $1 million in incentives.
The state awarded Artico $600,000 from its local economic development fund, which exchanges grant funds for specific job targets. Additionally, the City of Las Cruces has pledged $281,400 and El Paso Electric pledged $100,000 from its New Mexico Economic Development fund.
The state grant, known as LEDA (for the Local Economic Development Act that created the fund), typically includes "clawback" provisions to retrieve money if companies do not employ the promised number of workers.
The warehouse is expected to open for business in September 2023.
"Cold storage is in short supply across the United States," Artico CEO Richard Taveras said in a news release, "and we see the need in New Mexico for more capacity — there are significant opportunities to help producers of chiles, dairy, pecans, meats, vegetables."
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Ed Ogaz, whose family has farmed in the Hatch Valley and Doña Ana County for several generations, owns Seco Spices, with facilities processing and packaging chile products in Berino and Artesia. He said Artico's services fill a need local producers have been talking about for many years — a need that has intensified during supply chain interruptions in the midst of the pandemic.
"This brings a lot of things together," he said. "We ship a lot of our product to the East Coast and West Coast as well as the upper Midwest. This allows our business to grow, because now we'll have the ability to do more in a shorter period of time and keep it holding for the customer."
Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance director Davin Lopez credited Ogaz with much of the market analysis that assisted MVEDA in recruiting Artico. Building in the industrial park just west of the city allows Artico to position itself as "a logistical hub in the southwest for food logistics" with proximity to the Mexican market as well, Lopez said.
"It's not just a situation where it's an outside group that sees a market opportunity," Lopez said, "but it was also local industry seeing an opportunity and bringing robust capital into our region to make it happen."
Las Cruces City Manager Ifo Pili said Artico was initiating the first new construction at the park since 2017 and celebrated "the amount of investment and amazing job opportunities (Artico) will be creating for Las Cruces."
Lopez said cold storage was a vital service for economic growth in the region.
"When we brought in Stampede Meat, the facility that they purchased did not have near enough cold storage, so Valley Cold Storage down in Santa Teresa became a beneficiary of that because they were able to provide that service," Lopez said. "We see that as a need for the next food processing companies we'll be trying to bring into the area."
Ogaz said the added storage services would "absolutely" allow agricultural producers like him to grow and boost their own workforces.
"I don't think Cruces is mom-and-pop anymore," Ogaz said. "I think we're growing at big enough clip that two or three cold storages can support everything that happens here."
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Artico, a $30M cold storage development coming to Las Cruces, promises jobs