Las Cruces and its surrounding communities offer numerous advantages to the aerospace and commercial space industries.
Southern New Mexico has favorable elevation for launching rockets (4,500 feet), 340 days on average of sunshine annually, favorable latitude characteristics, and abundant land. Southern New Mexico also has a sparse population perfect for launching and recovering missiles and sounding rocket payloads.
Located near the White Sands Missile Range with its long history of rocket development and testing, Spaceport America will have access to the talent and resources of the Missile range. The airspace above Spaceport America is restricted and no commercial flights are allowed over this area. A MOU has been negotiated allowing use of the White Sands airspace, the largest controlled airspace in the United States.
The annual aerospace related payroll in southern New Mexico exceeds $300 million with work being done by White Sands Missile Range, NASA’s White Sands Test Facility, General Dynamics Corporation, New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory, Raytheon, and Boeing. Additional aerospace activity takes place at Holloman AFB, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico Tech, and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB. New Mexico’s aerospace and aviation industry is ranked 36th in the U.S. by employment with over 8,000 jobs.
Doņa Ana County has a well educated population base to service the aerospace industries needs. Over 13,000 residents have at least a Bachelor’s degree and over 9,000 have a graduate or professional degree. New Mexico State University is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of teaching as a “Doctoral/Research University – Extensive” and has added an Aerospace Engineering curriculum to the College of Engineering. Job training programs exist through the state and the local Doņa Ana Community College to train employees to meet the specific needs of a company.
Las Cruces was ranked the “Best small metro area for business and careers” by the Forbes-Milken Institute in 2002 and one of the top two “Best small metro areas for business and careers” by Forbes.com in 2006. The Milken Institute ranked Las Cruces as one of the “Top 3 small areas for business” in 2003 and one of the “Top 2 small areas for business” in 2004. These continued high rankings reinforce the area’s virtually untapped potential.