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Prent Corporation, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of custom plastic, rigid thermoform packaging for the medical, electronics and consumer industries, will open a new manufacturing facility in Santa Teresa, N.M., the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) and the New Mexico and the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) have announced.
Prent plans to invest $12.5 million and create 85 new jobs in Santa Teresa, MVEDA said in a news release. The company is headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin.
MVEDA and the Borderplex Alliance worked together to attract Prent Corporation to New Mexico.
“Prent recognized immediately the logistical advantages that Santa Teresa had to offer,” said MVEDA President and CEO Davin Lopez. “Access to rail and our international port of entry, combined with strong incentives from the State of New Mexico made their decision very clear. Additionally, Prent saw the value of our regional partnership efforts and its ancillary value to the long-term success of their operations in the region.”
“I think they just saw a vision for themselves here in the Southwest,” Lopez said in a phone interview. He said Prent’s commitment to 62,500 square feet of space in Santa Teresa is hopefully phase one, with the possibility that the company could “double the size of that facility going forward.”
“This the second company we announced within the past 10 days that is coming to our Santa Teresa industrial base,” said Border Industrial Association President Jerry Pacheco. “We are on track to have the best year ever in Santa Teresa in terms of new construction, investment and jobs created.”
“When El Paso, Cuidad Juarez and Doña Ana County work together and market ourselves as a region, there is no limit to what we can accomplish,” said Borderplex Alliance CEO Jon Barela. “Together, we are more competitive, attractive and offer a unique advantage to potential new businesses.”
“The Borderplex region makes perfect sense for Prent,” Prent Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Mark Rothlisberger said in a news release. “It’s an area ripe for innovation and partnership. For more than three years, we’ve worked closely with partners in the region to make this a reality. Over and over, we heard that the strength of the region is its collaboration across borders.”
The state is supporting the expansion with $500,000 from the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) fund, a job-creation or closing fund administered by the NMEDD.
Prent also is receiving economic assistance from Doña Ana County (DAC) with a proposed industrial revenue bond (IRB) ordinance that goes to public hearings in the coming weeks, the news release said.
“Prent Corporation’s opening will add a substantial number of good paying jobs to DAC,” said County Commission Chair Lynn Ellins. “Santa Teresa is an excellent location for contributing to Prent’s success. This is especially good news to receive in the midst of a pandemic.”
Once the IRB is approved, Prent will build a 62,500 square-foot facility at the Santa Teresa Gateway Rail Park with the capacity to double its footprint in five years. With almost 600 employees, Prent has opened five greenfield facilities in the last 10 years and has never laid off an employee in its 53-year history.
The rail park -- owned and operated by Ironhorse Resources, Inc. (IRH) -- recently completed the development of 87 acres rail-served lots of five-20 acres, the news release said. Santa Teresa Southern Railroad, an IHR subsidiary, has completed construction of an additional 10,500 feet of track and 10 acres designed as a train-loading facility for windmill components.
“IHR appreciates the opportunity to work closely with the Borderplex Alliance, MVEDA, the New Mexico Partnership, the State of New Mexico and DAC to bring Prent Corporation to the region,” said IHR Director of Land Development Hildeberto Moreno. “With the infrastructure, services and incentives provided by these organizations and the county and state and IHR’s commitment to growing our facilities, it is clear that we are a community ready to accommodate the expansion of local and regional companies and to attract new companies to our region.”
Operations are expected to begin in fall 2021, with construction starting as soon as approvals are in place. The average hourly wage is expected to be $26.14 for full-time employees and $15.75 for part-time.
Prent was founded by Jack and Carol Pregont in 1967. The Santa Teresa manufacturing facility, Prent’s 11th, will like its others, utilize the same Prent designed/built thermoformers (fabrication techniques) used globally. The majority of parts that Prent produces are sterile barrier packages for medical devices.
By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin
Despite the impact of COVID-19, “the momentum seems to continue,” said Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) President and CEO Davin Lopez. “Businesses are continuing to look at our area. We now have a strong pipeline that makes me feel positive about going into the second half of our fiscal year.”
MVEDA “started to do things in different ways” after COVID-19 hit in March, Lopez said. “We had some very strong numbers coming into March,” he said, but in March and April, “our lead generation completely died.”
With travel restrictions and the cancellation of trade shows, “we had to pivot to different ways of marketing ourselves,” he said, including more online and “asset-based marketing” that targets those industries mostly likely to be attracted to what Las Cruces and Doña Ana County have to offer.
As a result, he said, “lead generation numbers started to rebound in June and July. Projects we had been working for a while started to come to fruition.”
MVEDA’s most recent successes include bringing Mass Markets call center to Las Cruces and Prent Corporation to Santa Teresa – potentially creating nearly 400 jobs between them. And there are more possibilities on the horizon, Lopez said, as MVEDA and its partners focus on the aerospace and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) industries, value-added agriculture and the remote-work industry that has expanded with the onset of COVID-19.
“We think from a policy standpoint at the state and even locally, things need to change to make us more viable to attract remote-work companies that want to hire people in Doña Ana County,” he said.
That means partnering with New Mexico State University and others “to equip local workers with the skills to be strong remote workers” to attract companies from across the country.
Lopez said MVEDA is developing a white paper on remote work that will present “local strategies that make sense for us.”
Partnerships continue to be the key to successful economic development and job creation for Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, Lopez said, including those that reach across state and international borders.
“We believe Mexico is going to be the biggest beneficiary of near-shoring,” he said, as U.S. manufacturers look to more secure supply chains in North America. Partnerships in El Paso and in Chihuahua and San Jeronimo help put Santa Teresa “in a prime position” to benefit, he said.
MVEDA also is “utilizing our digital marketing campaign to identify companies on the cusp of moving out of Asia and get in front of them, telling our story,” Lopez said.
“We don’t have the luxury of being everything to everybody,” he said. “The more niches we can create, the more we can distinguish ourselves from other parts of the country.”
“We’re just showing really positive results,” he said. “The pipeline is growing.”
Founded in 1994, MVEDA is a nonprofit public-private economic development partnership that Lopez has headed since February 2009.