Investment group plans 'major' aluminum manufacturing facility in Los Lunas - Albuquerque Journal

Investment group plans ‘major’ aluminum manufacturing facility in Los Lunas

Louisville-based Manna Capital Partners and Colorado-based Ball Corp., a business that specializes in recyclable aluminum beverage packaging, announced a partnership on Thursday that will see Manna build and maintain an aluminum can sheet rolling mill and recycling center at the Central New Mexico Rail Park in Western Los Lunas.

The group has signed a letter of intent for the 1,300-acre parcel in Los Lunas and, once complete, the facility is expected to have an economic impact of $3.4 billion over the next decade, while creating hundreds of high-paying jobs. The company is expected to invest more than $2 billion into the project, according to a news release from the state’s Economic Development Department.

Manna representatives weren’t immediately available for comment.

“There is increasing demand for recycled aluminum packaging from beverage makers driven by a push for sustainability,” Junior Bridgeman, managing partner of Manna Capital Partners, said in a statement. “New Mexico has given us the opportunity to respond with what we expect to be the newest state-of-the-art aluminum rolling mill in North America. This project will positively impact people’s lives and is a win-win for everybody.”

Jobs at the facility — which is expected to open by 2026, with construction beginning in late 2023 — are estimated to pay average salaries of $68,000. The state is earmarking $5 million from its Local Economic Development Act job-creation fund to support the project. The LEDA money will be “paid out as the manufacturer reaches economic development benchmarks, to be determined in a Project Participation Agreement,” according to the news release.

“This state investment will not only bring new higher-paying jobs for New Mexicans, but it expands our manufacturing footprint with sustainable, responsible products that will see increasing demand,” said Alicia J. Keyes, the state’s economic development Cabinet secretary. “The Economic Development Department and our partners worked together for months to bring this project here. We competed against 10 other sites and now these jobs are coming to New Mexico. True collaborative efforts like this one result in great successes for our state.”

Indeed, economic developers in New Mexico have assisted in bringing Manna’s facility to New Mexico. Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance, known as AREA, received the initial inquiry from Manna last August — helping play a key role in connecting the firm to state and local economic development agencies, AREA President Danielle Casey said.

The Village of Los Lunas is expected to assist the group with the issuance of industrial revenue bonds, but Kristen Gamboa, the Village’s senior economic developer, said none have been issued yet and that the announcement is “super preliminary.” She said Manna will come down for a site visit in the coming months.

Industrial revenue bonds, otherwise known as IRBs, are a tax break for companies that plan to expand by way of construction and equipping of a future project. The state has said the project might also qualify for a percentage of the GRT it spends on construction due to a 2021 law signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, which allows for a portion of those taxes to be rebated to companies for “large, significant, job-creating projects.”

Manna is working with Public Service Co. of New Mexico on the project to get the facility to run off 100% renewable energy. The manufacturing process will require “in excess of 500,000 megawatts of electricity a year,” the news release said.

A demand for aluminum cans has led to the growth of businesses such as Ball Corp. looking to capitalize on it. About 75% of beverage product launches are now in cans, according to Zacks Equity Research.

“Their market is booming,” Gamboa said.

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