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NMSU high-tech industrial park poised for takeoff

biz00_jd_16apr_Arrowhead-PlanALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico State University is putting the final touches on a new master plan to develop a high-tech industrial hub on the southern end of campus.

The plan calls for building three industry clusters in healthcare, aerospace and digital media at the Arrowhead Research Park — a 175-acre swath of land on the university’s southern tip that’s sandwiched between Interstates 10 and 25. NMSU originally dedicated that zone for an industrial park in 1989, but very little development has occurred until now.

Last year, however, the university received a $488,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration to develop a master plan to build out the area. That paved the way for a new partnership last July with Albuquerque-based RIO Real Estate Opportunities LLC, which will provide financing, development and construction services for the park.

Now, with the master plan nearly complete, RIO and the university are gearing up for a marketing blitz, plus ground breaking this summer on a new, 64,000-square-foot building at the park. That facility will house all of NMSU’s technology transfer and entrepreneurship programs, plus startup companies and established businesses that want to co-locate there.

“We’ll wrap up the master plan in late April or early May,” said Arrowhead Park Executive Director Wayne Savage. “We’ll launch an aggressive marketing campaign starting in May, and pursue a cluster-based development focus going forward.”

The park does currently house a 39,000-square-foot Arrowhead Executive Office Center. That’s a privately-owned, three-building complex where General Dynamics, a Virginia-based communications technology company, and the U.S. Geological Service are located.

Also, since 2010, two early college high schools have opened at the park, one focused on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM education, and the other on medical training. The schools allow students to earn college-level associate degrees alongside their high school diplomas.

In addition, in August, the private Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine will open an, 80,000-square-foot building at the park, providing career in healthcare in partnership with NMSU and the high schools, Savage said. That could offer a magnet to attract biotechnology companies to Arrowhead.

Next week, NMSU will meet with 40 to 50 local leaders in healthcare and biotechnology to discuss strategies for growing an industrial cluster.

Arrowhead will also pursue an aerospace industry cluster, drawing on the university’s research and development expertise in that area and the park’s proximity to Spaceport America and White Sands Missile Range. And, the university hopes to use its creative digital media programs — which include animation, virtual reality, game development, computer science and big data management — to attract film industry interest.

“We hope to build that cluster in partnership with the city, which wants to create a community film studio,” Savage said.

Development will kick off with the planned 64,000-square-foot building that RIO expects to open in mid-2017, said RIO principal Tim Cummins.

“We’ll bring financing and equity and construct the building,” Cummins said. “We expect to break ground, by the latest, at the end of summer.”

The $15 million building will provide a new home for Arrowhead Center Inc., NMSU’s technology transfer office, which has markedly ramped up activities in the last few years. The Arrowhead Center is currently crammed into the Genesis Center, a 30,000-square-foot complex of buildings just northeast of Arrowhead Park that it shares with startups and established companies.