LC Bulletin: 2009: A tumultuous year

January 1, 2010. Retrieved online: January 11, 2010 from Gabriel Vasquez, Las Cruces Bulletin

In a year marked by one of the deepest recessions the United States has ever seen, Las Cruces found itself in an awkward position – better than most, but still struggling. The good news, was that three of Las Cruces strongest sectors – government, health care and education – suffered little in the wake of a global financial meltdown. The bad news was that the housing market took a dive, thousands of jobs were lost and not all businesses survived to open another year.

The launching of Allen Theatres’ Cineport 10, a state-of-the-art movie theater that had been in the works for years, marked the year’s openings. It found its home on the east side of Mesilla Valley Mall.

Also early in the year, Las Cruces Airport tenant Rocket Racing League, an interactive sports, gaming and entertainment company with a focus on rocket racers, fought to keep its lease. The city terminated its contract with the company in September after a three ear relationship plagued by unfulfilled promises, late rent payments and half-completed hangars that lacked the proper infrastructure.

Zeffiro Pizzeria Napoletana opened in January at the heart of Downtown Las Cruces to much success, making a believer out of many who for years took the area for being a commercial dead-zone.

“This place is for people that live to eat, rather than eat to live,” said Zeffiro owner Gary Ebert when his restaurant first opened. The Downtown transformation finally began to take shape with construction on the north end, removal of old awnings, plus new festivals and celebrations and a Downtown Partnership group that carefully planned to bring in more business and revitalize the district.

“These are exciting times for Downtown,” said Cindi Fargo, executive director of the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership.

“Thanks to working together and with the support of the City of Las Cruces and the New Mexico MainStreet program, we accomplished a great deal during the past 12 months.”

Also working to help bring more business to Las Cruces, New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center came out of the blocks and into the spotlightas a strong advocate for economic development and a one stop-resource for new and existing business owners.

Arrowhead programs spotlighted in 2009 included its technology and small business incubator, entrepreneurship institute and workforce innovation unit.

“We’ve gone from idea to opening in just 18 months,” said Arrowhead CEO Kevin Boberg.

Arrowhead Center created a number of partnerships throughout the state with entities such as Technology Venture Capitalists, the New Mexico Economic Development Department, White Sands Missile Range, Fort Bliss, Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA), SCORE and the Small Business Development Center. In February, MVEDA welcomed Davin Lopez as its new director. The MVEDA board now credits Lopez for its strong efforts recruiting high-tech companies and alternative energy-related businesses, which continue to represent a majority of commercial interest for businesses looking to relocate to Las Cruces, Lopez said.

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