Two food producers choose Santa Teresa to expand operations - Albuquerque Journal

Two food producers choose Santa Teresa to expand operations

A cayenne pepper farm in Mexico that Louisiana Pepper Exchange sources from. The company, as well as one other in Oro LLC, announced their plans to expand into Santa Teresa, New Mexico. (Courtesy of Louisiana Pepper Exchange)

There’s a new spice in Southern New Mexico — and it’s not green chile.

Louisiana Pepper Exchange, based in New Orleans, will join Oro LLC, a food processing company, in an expansion into Santa Teresa. Both companies cited transportation advantages as a key reason for choosing the region, according to the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

Oro plans to fill a 20-acre site in the Santa Teresa Gateway Rail Park, while Louisiana Pepper Exchange has purchased a 10-acre site in the Ironhorse Industrial Park.

“Recruiting new businesses to the Santa Teresa Border Zone continues to be a priority for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham,” EDD Secretary Alicia Keyes said in a statement. “This region is more important than ever to America’s prosperity as companies look to diversify their supply chains and provide more affordable goods and materials to North American customers and consumers.”

Oro plans to open its $19 million facility in 2024, according to a news release, and create 49 jobs with an average salary of $35,710. Construction will start this summer.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Pepper Exchange will hire at least 20 people over the next five years, with the average salary standing at $45,000. The company’s 10-acre site will house a 40,000-square-foot processing facility and space for tank farms that can store up to 30 million pounds of pepper mash for sale to customers in the U.S.

As part of their expansion, both companies are also receiving Local Economic Development Act funds. Louisiana Pepper Exchange was awarded $300,000 in LEDA money and Oro will receive $750,000. Doña Ana County will act as the fiscal agent for the LEDA funds.

Additionally, both companies will receive $100,000 from the NM Borderplex Closing Incentive to support their expansion into the area. That incentive is administered by the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, which helped aid in the recruitment of the two companies.

Oro, which has contract growers in Mexico, plans to connect with local farmers in the state. The company largely deals with bulk-ingredient sourcing to processors and packaged veggies for restaurants, food services and retail customers, according to the state.

Louisiana Pepper Exchange, a family-owned business founded in 2010, produces pepper-based ingredients for manufacturers and restaurants. It also sells products at national chains such as Walmart, according to its website.

Like Oro, the company has direct relationships with farmers in Mexico and it plans to explore other opportunities with New Mexico-based chile farmers, according to the state. It is currently working with a hamburger chain on a ghost pepper cheeseburger and has worked with Dunkin Donuts on a peppered donut.

Zach Foster, the chief financial officer for Louisiana Pepper Exchange, cited Santa Teresa as a place that can support its supply chain out of Mexico and called it a “natural fit.”

Oro’s leadership sees the expansion into the area in a similar light.

“Oro sees Santa Teresa as a logistical gateway that will open our products to more customers across the west, and that means more opportunities for growers and processors in New Mexico,” Hugo Ruiz, operations manager for Oro, said in a statement.

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