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 user 2009-12-01 at 11:13:25 am Views: 33
  • #23016

    Wednesday is a day that has been circled on more than a few calendars in Rio Rancho.It’s the day that technology giant Hewlett-Packard opens its 218,000-square-foot customer service and technical support center in Rio Rancho’s City Center area.HP officials will join city, county and state officials in welcoming HP to the City of Vision with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m.

    Mayor Tom Swisstack said the Hewlett-Packard project is ahead of schedule.
    “This to me demonstrates that everybody works together, from the builders to the people that surveyed the property to city staff moving the permitting process so they could get their doors open in a timely fashion,” he said. “It’s equally exciting that they’re opening their doors with a little over 600 employees.”

    Swisstack thinks that HP opening its center in Rio Rancho shows that the city is on the move.
    “Despite the recession that is hitting New Mexico, Rio Rancho is still a growth community,” Swisstack said. “HP is helping to elevate the capacity that’s needed to bring in other businesses. They’re becoming good stewards in working with our city in getting involved in community activities.”“We’re very excited,” said Linda Wedeen, communications manager for the HP Rio Rancho site.Wedeen couldn’t go into specifics on how many employees the center would have initially, but said HP is on target to have 1,350 employees by the end of 2012. She said HP is conducting business at its temporary site in Albuquerque and will move employees over to the new site into Rio Rancho.Of the initial employees, Wedeen said approximately 70 percent of them will be new hires.HP hopes to have 1,800 full-time employees in 15 years and the company says the majority of the jobs will pay at least $40,000, with an annual payroll of $54 million.

    HP received several tax breaks and incentives to locate in New Mexico.
    The state contributed $6 million in capital outlay funding. That money went to the City of Rio Rancho in early August to provide infrastructure.The state also has contributed $8,095,883 through the Job Training Incentive Program for HP to train 647 employees, Toni Balzano, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Economic Development Department said. The most recent funding was $3.7 million awarded on Nov. 13 to train 300 employees.

    As for future funding from JTIP, that’s up in the air.
    Balzano said the program needs more money to provide for additional requests.
    “If they were to come back in for another $1.5 million or so and we’re without funds unless we get supplemental funding between now and June,” she said. “What may happen is we may push their request into next fiscal year to manage their request.”

    Regardless, Balzano says the state will honor its commitment to HP.
    “That’s (JTIP) one of our most important recruitment tools for HP,” Balzano said. “We will absolutely fulfill our promise. It is important for economic development. The state can’t be seen not holding up promises or its end of the deal or we won’t be able to recruit companies to the state.”Wedeen wouldn’t go into details on the JTIP, but said HP is moving forward.“We are moving in with the amount of employees we’re expected to move forward with,” she said. “At this point, nothing is hampered.”The city is offering HP $63.5 million in industrial revenue bonds to finance the acquisition, equipping and construction of its new facility. The bonds give HP a break on property taxes, but not for taxes related to Rio Rancho Public Schools.Titan City Center, which is developing the HP project, is responsible for all costs associated with the bonds.

    The city is leasing 17.08 acres of land appraised at $595,203.84 to HP for $1 a year for 50 years.Other incentives the city has offered Hewlett-Packard include a fast track for the building plan review, permit issuance and construction inspection scheduling; no fees for checking structure plans, tenant improvements and building permits; no impact fees; no water meter fees or installation charges, and reimbursing the project grading costs. The land and the building revert to the city at the end of the 50-year land lease agreement.