Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Martinez visits Tucumcari plant

link Staff photo: Thomas Garcia

Gov. Susana Martinez speaks with Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory owner Charles Krause on Wednesday during a ceremony celebrating the

factory’s planned expansion.

Thomas Garcia

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Gov. Susana Martinez was in Tucumcari on Wednesday to help celebrate the planned $4.5 million expansion of Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory with local officials and a dozen residents and employees.

The expansion is expected to create up to 20 new jobs.

“At the state level we are continuing to work to keep businesses in the state, while bringing businesses back and enticing new businesses to come to our state,” Martinez said.

“What gives me the warmth in my heart,” she said, “is to come to small communities and see the growth of businesses and how much it means to residents.”

Martinez said since everyone expects job growth to happen in urban areas like Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, it is exciting to announce good job news in a small community like Tucumcari.

Martinez applauded Charles Krause, owner of the cheese factory, for his determination to expand the factory and bring more jobs to Tucumcari. She said Krause could have chosen to open his business in Texas, but chose New Mexico instead.

Martinez said value-added food production, such as cheese-making, has a long and cherished history in New Mexico, especially in eastern New Mexico, and is a targeted industry for growth.

Food products that add value to the original ingredients, she said, can be exported outside the state to bring new dollars to town.

Martinez said manufacturing jobs are important to economic growth because they are typically higher paid positions. The jobs being created in Tucumcari, she said, all meet the state’s high wage threshold and help to build the local tax base.

Martinez said the state needs to diversify its economy with manufacturing jobs and manufacturing growth will help make the state less reliant on federal dollars. New Mexico is ranked as the state with the greatest dependence on federal government jobs and programs.

Martinez said the state has added 32,000 private-sector jobs since she took office.

“We still have a ways to go in growing our economy, but with partners like Krause and Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory we are on the right track,” Martinez said.

Krause said the expansion is a 40-year commitment.

“My goal is that we are here and making feta cheese 40 years from now,” Krause said.

The Tucumcari city commission has authorized the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp. to apply for $141,830 in Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds to assist the cheese factory in financing water quality-enhancing facilities for its expansion.

The funds have been collected from a city gross receipts tax that funds LEDA. Expenditures of LEDA funds, however, must be approved by the state economic development department.

The cheese factory’s expansion is expected to result in 10 to 12 permanent jobs averaging $10.50 per hour in wages, said Pat Vanderpool, executive director of Tucumcari’s economic development corporation, said.

Richard Primrose, Quay County manager and president of the economic development corporation, said that in 2002, the factory had seven or eight jobs but now will have 40 to 50 jobs.