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NMSU engineering receives grant for border technology manufacturing

  • By Emilee Cantrell
  • 575-646-2913
  • emilee@nmsu.edu
  • Dec 06, 2013
Exterior of buildings.

The College of Engineering at New Mexico State University and its partners in the Innovation Frontier Southwest were awarded a $457,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce that may lead to the expansion of manufacturing and aerospace business in southern New Mexico and Arizona. The grant will fund a strategic manufacturing plan for the region.

The focus of the grant, Border Technology Manufacturing Initiative, is to build capacity and supply chain analysis for manufacturing in southern New Mexico and southern Arizona. The partners in the grant will focus on manufacturing opportunities, aerospace and defense in the border area.

Innovation Frontier Southwest is a collaboration between the University of Arizona, Pima County, Arizona Commerce Authority, City of Tucson, Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, New Mexico State University and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities.

NMSU's role in the partnership will be to focus on southern New Mexico.

"Our focus will be to look for gaps in the supply-chain, identify opportunities for economic development in Santa Teresa with the maquilas in Cuidad Juarez, and assess opportunities with White Sands Missile Range and defense and aerospace contractors in the region," said Patricia Sullivan, College of Engineering assistant dean and director of the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network.

The Engineering New Mexico Resource Network, which is the College of Engineering outreach arm, will be contributing to the initiative at NMSU along with the Arrowhead Center, Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the hope is to identify opportunities that enhance new business start-ups, create opportunities for business expansion and foster economic development in the region.

"We're trying to build on our small business capabilities in the region by filling gaps in the supply chain," she said.

Sullivan said the Border Technology Manufacturing Initiative builds on a previous grant received by Arrowhead Center and the College of Engineering, called the i6 Challenge. The focus of the i6 Challenge is to build regional capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The new grant will build on the i6 Challenge by identifying gaps in the supply chain and developing collaborative strategies to fill the gaps in terms of business creation, assistance and start-up. The initiative will also build on existing collaborations with the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Program and the Border Plex regional alliance.

When deciding on the focus of the initiative, NMSU and the University of Arizona looked for similarities in the two regions.

"We were looking for commonalities in economic potential," Sullivan said. She added that several of the companies in the defense industry that are located in Tucson, Ariz., conduct testing at White Sands Missile Range and also have locations in the Las Cruces area. She also said that manufacturing in the Santa Teresa border area continues to expand, with similar border manufacturing opportunities occurring in Tucson.

"We have similar alignments in these areas and developed the collaboration as a means of expanding economic development throughout the region," Sullivan said.

"We are excited about this opportunity and will be seeking input and feedback from industry to move this effort forward," Sullivan said.