High-tech greenhouse to create 120 jobs
By Alta LeCompte
Las Cruces Bulletin
In the near future, a Dallas homeowner may make a trip to Lowe’s to buy a flat of floral bedding plants grown in the Mesilla Valley.
That’s the vision Mark Wong, founding partner of Colorado Financial Holdings, shared with state and local dignitaries Oct. 19 when Gov. Susana Martinez announced New Mexico Greenhouse Holdings LLC (NMGH) will expand into New Mexico.
NMGH is a partnership of Colorado Financial Holdings and Olson’s Greenhouse Gardens, a commercial grower with facilities in Utah and Colorado.
The company will invest $6 million to rehabilitate the former Aldershot of New Mexico greenhouse at 4884 S. Main St., which will be equipped with state-of-the-art water purification and recycling systems.
Wong said NMGH will raise plants for the local market as well as major urban markets. Its markets are big-box stores.
NMGH has received $250,000 from the state’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) closing fund and has pledged to create 123 jobs in the next four years. These new jobs will include botanists, geneticists and greenhouse staff.
If the business grows as planned in the Mesilla Valley, its high-tech, 15-acre greenhouse may even become a catalyst for growing the economy and advancing horticultural research.
During the announcement ceremony, Wong posed the question of why the company chose to locate in Las Cruces.
He gave a list of reasons, highlighting the local workforce.
“There are hard-working people here,” he said. “You can’t say that about everywhere.”
Wong said the company did its due diligence and heard good things about the local workforce from companies already operating here.
Comfort with the culture and respect for the area’s agricultural heritage also played into the company’s decision.
“We’re a mountain state people,” he said. “We feel more comfortable west of the Mississippi River and east of the Pacific Ocean.”
The location is ideal for distribution of floral bedding plants to the company’s big box customers, Wong said. Shipping time will be cut from six days to two days.
“CFH firmly believes that the future of agriculture lies in bringing production closer to the customer,” Wong said.
The long agricultural history of the area is “incredibly important to us,” he said.
“We always look to stay ahead of the curve,” Wong said. “We are going to try produce here. We’ve been in the agriculture and seed business for 35 years. We’re very excited about trying to do new things … and doing them in a greenhouse environment.”
“Investment of this kind results not only in jobs, but we expect to see significant research and development, potentially with NMSU,” said Doña Ana County Manager Julia Brown “This honors our deep agricultural and horticultural tradition in Doña Ana county.”
The university’s executive vice president and provost, Dan Howard, said according to the company’s business plan, it can start immediately with bedding plants.
“Whatmakesitunique developingberryandvegetable seeds that will do well in this area – will create a wonderful opportunity for the students we train in plant breeding and plant genetics,” he said.