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Meow Wolf gets $528K job training grant

Meow Wolf of Santa Fe greets visitors with a giant robot. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Economic Development Department Friday authorized close to $1.7 million in job training grants to a dozen businesses, with the largest award —$528,283 — going to Santa Fe arts and entertainment business Meow Wolf.

In order to qualify for Job Training Incentive Program grants, businesses must actually spend money to hire and train employees before they are reimbursed by the state.

Meow Wolf, which operates the popular House of Eternal Return immersive art exhibit in the former Silva Lanes in Santa Fe, plans to open new exhibits in Las Vegas, Nev., Denver, Washington D.C. and Phoenix during the next few years, with other locations possible, CEO Vince Kadlubek told the JTIP board.

Meow Wolf has previously received $910,372 in JTIP grants, according to Bruce Krasnow, the economic development department spokesman.

Depending on the success of the 2020 Las Vegas opening, Kadlubek said, the company may expand its manufacturing capacity. He raised the possibility Meow Wolf could move that work to the city-owned Midtown Campus property on St. Michael’s Drive, which is vacant. Kadlubek recently announced plans to step down as Meow Wolf’s CEO.

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Vince Kadlubek

Meow Wolf last year opened a 53,000-square-foot manufacturing and production facility in a former Caterpillar factory on Santa Fe’s west side. The company currently has a total of 471 employees, with 350 engaged in manufacturing.

The funding approved by the state will allow Meow Wolf to train 26 employees in a variety of jobs, with an average hourly wage of $36.60, according to paperwork filed with the state.

Other funding requests approved by the JTIP board included:

  • $233,184 for Indica Labs Inc., an Albuquerque provider of digital pathology software, to train 11 employees making an average of $37.23 an hour;
  •  $166,230 for Solar Works Energy LLC, a commercial and residential solar energy contractor in Albuquerque, to train 16 workers earning an average of $24.56 an hour;
  • $161,926 for Phyto Remedies LLC, an Albuquerque processor of medical cannabis and hemp products, which plans to train 25 employees making an average of $18.86 an hour;
  •  $138,590 for Unity BPO, an Albuquerque healthcare technology company, to train 14 employees with an average hourly wage of $22.50;
  •  $120,310 for Landover-Md.-based Systems Integration Inc., which will provide secure call center services to the Transportation Safety Administration in Albuquerque and train 22 employees making an average of $16.27 an hour;
  •  $116,846 to Universal Sheets LLC, a Santa Teresa manufacturer of equipment for the corrugated packaging industry that plans to train 15 employees. The hourly rate of those workers wasn’t provided.
  •  $95,380 to LoadPath LLC of Albuquerque, which delivers technologies for satellite and space launch applications, to train three workers earning an average of $55 an hour;
  •  $58,116 to New Mexico Hemp Services LLC of Santa Rosa, which is scaling up to become a vertically integrated hemp operation, to train two employees making an average of $34.77 an hour;
  •  $41,800 to Albuquerque-based IRD Fuel Cells LLC, a maker of energy-efficient and eco-friendly fuel cells and batteries, to train four workers earning an average of $21.25 an hour; and
  •  $30,030 to Golightly Cashmere, which operates retail stores in Santa Fe and Taos under the Chocolate + Cashmere name, to hire a single worker, “an engineer with a passion for textiles,” who will earn $52.50 an hour; and
  •  $4,800 to Paradise Power Co. of Taos, also known as PPC Solar, to promote six employees. Their average hourly wage wasn’t disclosed.
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