LA MESA — Rich Global Hemp is moving its operation to Doña Ana County to ramp up production and will hire 180 employees as well as work with local farmers to grow the crop and researchers at New Mexico State University to study different strains of the plant.
“We believe New Mexico could be one of the leaders in production for commercial hemp,” said Josh Rich, CEO of Rich Global Hemp. The governor and state and local economic development officials welcomed the company to New Mexico during the announcement Monday organized by the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance.
“Today’s a celebration. New Mexico set a marker that said companies who want to engage in this new cash commodity…” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We’re the first state in the country to be ready to create a new industry.”
The farm bill passed by Congress in December legalized hemp nationally.
The announcement of the new hemp production company moving here comes a month and a half after the governor signed a new law authorizing state agencies to regulate the crop.
Rich credited the “political will” as part of the company’s decision to move to New Mexico as well as the perfect climate of hot days and cool nights ideal for growing hemp plants.
Rich Global Hemp is taking over a 750,000-square-foot green house in Las Cruces and has already begun reaching out to area farmers who are interested in start up plants.
“Honestly two years ago I wouldn’t have ever thought about coming to New Mexico. We were like Nevada, Colorado, this is where we’re going to do our operations,” said Kai Kirk, founding partnter of Rich Global Hemp. Kirk said the company is excited about bringing an alternative crop to New Mexico farmers and create a variety of jobs.
Hemp can be used to create a variety of products including textiles, fabric, food and biodegradeable plastics. One of the biggest areas of growth is health and beauty products from CBD oil. The company will work with NMSU to study different strains and uses for hemp both medically and industrially.
NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu said the business is an example of “placed-based economic development that takes full advantage of our unique local agricultural base and leverages it with a new crop.”
Davin Lopez, president and CEO of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance welcomed the company’s NMSU collaboration.
The state has approved a $1.2 million grant for land, building and infrastructure from the Local Economic Development Act program and up to $1.4 million in job training.
The project is expected to generate $136 million in direct spending over the next 10 years with a total economic impact of $247 million, according to an analysis by the state Economic Development Department.