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Manufacturing Facility Would Extend Produce Shelf life, Create Jobs, And Strengthen Local Economy
An innovative food processing facility called “New Mexico Fresh Foods” would put Santa Fe at the forefront of a new food economy that would enable local producers to ship fresh, healthy foods to a wider area. High Pressure Processing (HPP) uses cold water pressure to denature bacteria and extend the shelf life of fresh foods without perceivable differences to color, taste, texture, and nutrient content.
“Santa Fe is perfectly positioned to grow a thriving business in value-added food industry,” said Mayor Webber. “Healthy food, locally grown and locally produced are important parts of Santa Fe’s historic identity and, just as important, a great opportunity for our future. It means jobs, but it’s also another part of a sustainable, healthy way of life,” said Mayor Webber.
HPP extends the shelf life of fresh foods without the need for chemical preservatives or heat, which is of critical importance to artisanal food producers. Currently, HPP-equipped facilities are only available in five locations within the United States and the closest facility is located in Denver, CO. Locating this facility in Santa Fe means HPP will be provided to other food producers in New Mexico and the region.
The facility is expected to generate a ripple effect on the local food economy by helping manufacturers and producers lessen industry hurdles. Manufacturers will be more likely to export nationally because the high pressure processing offered by New Mexico Fresh Foods extends the shelf life of their products by four to ten times. Farmers who struggle to connect with food manufacturers will have a place to warehouse their goods, and access to entrepreneurs ready to turn their farm produce into branded products. The facility is also projected to generate $2.5 billion in new revenue for food producers over the next ten years.
The facility would be headquartered in a 42,000 square foot building located at 1549 Sixth Street in the Midtown District which is an Opportunity Zone (development program to encourage long-term investment in disadvantaged communities). It is an area with 11% unemployment versus a 5.6% average for the City of Santa Fe; and a $19,391 per capita income versus $34,371. NM Fresh Foods plans on hiring and training New Mexicans.
The food economy is more diverse and inclusive than other types of business start-ups and New Mexico Fresh Foods will support female, immigrant and Hispanic entrepreneurs.
Over the next ten years, New Mexico Fresh Foods facility is projected to:
- Create 162 new jobs.
- Generate an average salary of $43,000 and include healthcare, 401K, and paid time off.
- Produce $21 million in new taxes, fees and revenues for the City of Santa Fe.
The City’s Internal Revenue Bond policy does not allow for the abatement of SFPS (Santa Fe Public School) and SFCC (Santa Fe Community College) taxes; and the project meets City requirements for recouping investment within a ten-year time period. “This exciting project has the potential to inspire entrepreneurs and develop Santa Fe’s food industry into an important economic development driver for the city.” said Councilor Romero-Wirth
Currently, a public hearing for the IRB (internal revenue bond) ordinance and resolution are scheduled for September 25, 2019. Councilor Romero-Wirth, Mayor Webber, Councilors Ives and Lindell are sponsors of both items.
“NM Fresh Foods has rallied various partners for a creative capital investment where it benefits everyone to see them succeed,” Councilor Lindell.
The vision to transform Santa Fe’s food economy is a collaborative project which will uplift entrepreneurs, farmers, manufacturers. Several local philanthropists have invested in NMFF through the Santa Fe Community Foundation including Bud and Valerie Hamilton, David and Jordan Smith, and the Jessica’s Love Foundation. Also social impact investors Bob and Ellen Vladem, who see it as a means of creating positive change. A close collaboration with the Santa Fe Community College will create new education pathways for a future workforce in food processing.
Contact: Liz Camacho, Economic Development and Communications Administrator, (505) 955-6042, [bot protected email address]