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Las Cruces: Economy

Las Cruces: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Like many other sunbelt communities, Las Cruces' economy is booming. The city is the fastest-growing metro area in New Mexico and among the top 10 in the United States. The median age is younger than the state or national average, providing a prime, mostly bilingual, labor source. Private and public sectors continue to fuel the economy, whereas the conditions in other parts of the country, such as climate, cost of living, and quality of life, are less attractive to people and companies looking to relocate.

The four mainstays of the local economy are agriculture, commerce, education, and defense/aerospace. Since World War II, federal, state, and local government have become the main source of jobs in the area, due to the proximity of New Mexico State University (NMSU) and White Sands Missile Range. NMSU is the city's largest employer, and it also provides training and education for research facilities at White Sands. White Sands Missile Range is the Army's largest installation, and the largest military installation in the Western Hemisphere covering more than 2.2 million acres, and is used by the Navy, Air Force, and NASA. Other government agencies, universities, private industries, and even foreign militaries conduct research there as well.

Although Las Cruces was never primarily an industrial town, manufacturing and commerce has been growing in importance. The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, passed in 1994, has influenced this trend, as has the opening in 1991 of the border crossing at Santa Teresa, just 40 miles south of Las Cruces. Many companies are finding it advantageous to relocate in the Mesilla Valley area in order to do business with maquilladoras, (factories) in Mexico. NAFTA and the Mexican government's maquilladora program enacted in the 1960s encourage this type of trade by lowering or completely eliminating tariffs. For example, a U.S. company may send automobile parts to be assembled in Mexico; when the assembled car is shipped back, duties are paid only on the value added in Mexico. Molded plastics and electronic components are the top materials purchased by the maquilladoras.

On the U.S. side of the border, there are nine industrial and research parks in Dona Ana County. Reports from 2000 indicate the sale price of land in these developed lots ranged from only $.50 to $2.50 per square foot. Some are municipally owned and some private, but most have rail and interstate access and utilities included.

Las Cruces is definitely a land of peppers. Chile, cayenne, jalepeno, and bell peppers in every color imaginable are all raised locally. The pungent aroma of roasting peppers and the sight of strings of red peppers drying on rooftops enliven the local scene. Stahmann Farms on Highway 28, which originally focused on cotton and tomatoes, is now the world's largest producer of pecans. Other agricultural products include cotton, onions and various other vegetables, and dairy products. Research into developing new plant strains, particularly of peppers, takes place at New Mexico State University.

An enormous influx of retirees, students, and tourists has boosted the economy and has led to a building boom, including many senior citizen residences. A total of 796 new building permits for single-family units were issued in 2003, at an average cost of $144,900.

Items and goods produced: peppers, pecans, cotton and other agricultural products, electronics parts and molded plastics, repair parts for machines, packaging materials, chemicals.

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local Programs

The city may issue Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) for new businesses and industries, and will work with private bond counsel of the company and the State Investment Council to have the bonds purchased by the State Investment Pool or through a private placement. These IRBs can be used for construction, site costs, equipment, and training. The City Special Projects Office assists in expediting all permit applications. Dona Ana County also has the Investment Credit Act which encourages employers to locate in the area. The act requires companies to hire new workers and gives tax credits for machinery and other expenses. Las Cruces' 220 acre foreign trade zone exists in three sub-areas adjacent to the Las Cruces airport and West Mesa Industrial Park.

State programs

The city of Las Cruces participates in all New Mexico incentives for new businesses. These programs feature a 100 percent property tax abatement for up to 30 years; state income tax abatement or exemption; real property related business loans; 800/WATS phone line tax exemption; research and development tax reduction (both state and local); corporate child care tax credit; cultural preservation tax credit for businesses that restore a property listed in the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties; and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) loans for acquiring property, working capital, equipment, and construction. The Severance Tax Loan Program and the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund both provide money for establishing and expanding businesses in the area. New Mexico's 27J exemption helps small business ventures raise capital. State of New Mexico Investment Council Venture Capital Investment is a program that gives funds to experienced partnerships that have demonstrated successful investment performance. Still other state-wide programs include Enchantment Land Certified Development Company, which administers low interest, fixed rate, low down payment loans; and the New Mexico Community Development Loan program which is geared toward helping low income people. Funding for the latter, for example, can be used to build housing developments as well as business.

Job Training Programs

On-site and classroom job training is available at NMSU through the State of New Mexico Industrial Development Training Program. Some features of the program include training customized to individual companies' needs, and freedom of the employers to select training candidates. It is not limited to economically disadvantaged people.

Development Projects

Housing needs are on the minds of developers and planners in Las Cruces and any fast growing city. Las Cruces issued over 1,200 permits in 2004 for construction of all types of commercial and residential buildings. The Community Development Department has cooperated with 16 agencies to obtain over $1.1 billion for services for low income families, including helping 25 families though its Home Rehabilitation Program. This city department has also helped rewrite zoning codes according to citizen's requests, and has designed the future Mesquite Historic District community garden.

A major accomplishment was to facilitate commercial airline service at Las Cruces International Airport as of November 2004. Before this, the nearest full service airport was 40 miles away in El Paso, Texas. In the mid-2000s, a $3 million construction project dubbed "Community of Hope" is ongoing, renovation of the downtown Rio Grande Theatre was completed, playground equipment was replaced in 25 parks, and there were many other renovations of various city facilities, such as flood drains, street signs, and traffic signals. The importance of water and wastewater management to the region was not overlooked. A two million gallon capacity Telshor water tank was restored and nearly $1 million was spent for various upkeep projects on Las Cruces' more than 390 miles of water lines and 50 wells.

Economic Development Information: Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, 2345 East Nevada, Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)525-2852; fax (505)523-5707. Las Cruces-Dona Ana County Economic Development Council; telephone (505)524-1745

Commercial Shipping

Overnight shipping is available to most major western cities, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Denver. Two Railroads provide direct rail services: Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Union Pacific-Southern Pacific, and the newer border crossing at Santa Teresa is to be a future rail port of entry. Air freight service is provided by all major companies. Six major commercial trucking firms offer freight service for the area.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The city's labor force has been described as capable, technically skilled, dependable, and cost effective. Job growth continues to increase by roughly two percent per year.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Las Cruces labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 61,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 3,900

manufacturing: 8,800

trade, transportation, and utilities: 9,500

information: 1,100

financial activities: 2,400

professional and business services: 4,900

educational and health services: 9,000

leisure and hospitality: 6,100

other services: 1,500

government: 20,300

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $12.86

Unemployment rate: 6.8% (February 2005)

Largest county employers Number of employees
New Mexico State University 6,980
White Sands Missile Range 4,357
Las Cruces Public Schools 3,316
NASA 1,500
City of Las Cruces 1,251
Memorial Medical Center 1,198
Walmart 700
Allied Signal Aerospace 667
Excel Agent Services 300

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Las Cruces metropolitan area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $275,188

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 99.5 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.7% to 8.2%

State sales tax rate: 5.0% (prescription drugs and certain food and medical expenses exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 7.0%

Property tax rate: $27.53 per $1,000 of 33.3% of assessed value

Economic Information: Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, 760 W. Picacho, Las Cruces, NM 88005; telephone (505)524-1968. Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, 2345 E. Nevada, Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)525-2852. New Mexico Department of Labor, Las Cruces Area Office, 200 E. Griggs Avenue, Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)526-9622.

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Las Cruces: Recreation

Las Cruces: Recreation

Sightseeing

A popular attraction is the monument and white crosses which mark the graves of the travelers from Taos who were ambushed and killed by Apaches in 1830, and for which the city is purported to be named. White Sands Missile Range displays missiles and weapons at its visitor's center. Its museum traces the origins of space and nuclear research. Separate and distinct from the missile range is White Sands National Monument, an area of over 275 square miles of pure gypsum. Nature tours, including Lake Lucero, are given. Visitors can explore the world's largest pecan farms at Stahmann Farms, about 7 miles south of the city. History buffs of the Old West will enjoy San Albino Church in old Mesilla, one of the oldest missions in the region; the Fort Seldon State Monument on the site of the former cavalry fort; and the Historical Museum of Lawmen, located at the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department, which displays law enforcement memorabilia. The only federally funded monument to the Bataan Death March heroes can be found in Veterans Park in Las Cruces along Roadrunner Parkway. It was dedicated in 2001 and sculpted by local artist Kelly Hester.

Arts and Culture

Founded by Tony-award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, The American Southwest Theatre Company performs five or six regular season productions a year plus a children's show at New Mexico State University. Professional actors from the London Stage Company produce Shakespearean plays with the group once a year. The Las Cruces Community Theatre group produces five shows annually and holds a one-act festival of experimental plays in the winter. Opportunities for Creative Theater Students offers student performances at the NMSU Attic Theater.

Las Cruces boasts a number of interesting museums. Five are run by the city itself: the Las Cruces Historical Museum (formerly the Branigan Cultural Center), the Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Fine Art and Culture, The Railroad Museum, and the Bicentennial Log Cabin. The log cabin was originally in the Black Mountain range in Grant, New Mexico, until the mining industry ended and Grant became a ghost town. The log cabin was transported and completely rebuilt by Las Cruces Association of Home Builders, and features original furnishings and artifacts from the 1880s. The Las Cruces Historical Museum displays both historical and fine arts items in a turn-of-the-century parlor. The Museum of Fine Art and Culture was completed in spring of 1999. The Las Cruces Railroad and Transportation Museum holds artifacts from New Mexico's railroading past. The museum of Natural History displays plants and animals from the Chihuahuan Desert region and has programs running the gamut from dinosaurs to astronomy. The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is the largest of its kind in the world and educates the public on everything in the 3,000-year history of agriculture in New Mexico. New Mexico State University has its own University Museum in Kent Hall on the main campus, which holds mostly anthropological artifacts including historic and prehistoric art objects. Space Murals, Inc. is a combination giant water tower mural and museum honoring space exploration and astronauts. Visitors to the Gadsden Museum get a taste of life and times of the Albert Jennings Fountain family, who played a crucial role in Las Cruces history. The museum exhibits Indian artifacts and objects from the Civil War, paintings and china, and outlines the history of the Gadsden Purchase.

Festivals and Holidays

Las Cruces hosts holidays and fiestas year round, many of them celebrating the city's Hispanic culture. Starting in mid-January is the Mesilla Valley Balloon Rally, when 90 or more colorful balloons fill the sky. April offers four happenings: the La Vina Blues and Jazz Thing features cool music sponsored by New Mexico's oldest winery; the Trinity Site Tour in White Sands Missile Range where the first atomic explosion was set off; the Border Book Festival, featuring renowned visiting authors, food, fun, and live acts; and the annual Frontier Days at Fort Seldon. Cinco de Mayo festivities take place in May, with Mexican food, dancing, and music in old Mesilla. Also in May, the Fiesta de San Ysidro celebrates agriculture and Hispanic traditions, and ends with a Blessing of the Fields and the hot GLASS Fly-In, showcasing the latest in flight technology. Another wine festival dubbed The Vintner's Splash is held at the end of May.

Fourth of July is celebrated with the Electric Light Parade and fireworks. In September and October, kids and grown ups alike enjoy the Mesilla Valley Maze, which includes hay rides to a pumpkin patch and finding one's way through twists and turns cut into a corn field. In early September is the Hatch Chile Festival, honoring the Mesilla Valley as the chile capital of the world with food, crafts, an auction, and more. An hour north of Las Cruces, Hillsboro holds its apple festival the first week of September. Diez y Seis de Septiembre commemorates Mexican Independence day with folk dances, mariachi music, and traditional Mexican foods. The world's largest enchilada is constructed each year at the Whole Enchilada Fiesta, with an accompanying parade and other festivities. The end of September and the beginning of October bring the Southern New Mexico State Fair, with food, music, an auction, livestock shows, and a rodeo. La Vina, New Mexico's oldest winery, holds its namesake festival in October. The Annual Mesilla Jazz Happening holds court in two places, the old Historic Plaza and the new Mercado Plaza, with horse drawn shuttles giving free rides between the two plazas. Then in mid October "Cowboy Days" unfolds, with roping and riding demonstrations, food and music, and cowboy poetry.

While the Anglo world celebrates Halloween, in Las Cruces there is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, with candlelit processions, homemade altars in the streets, and a giant piñata. November brings the Annual Renaissance Craftfaire where artisans present their works in a juried art show and exhibition. In mid-November the International Mariachi Conference and Concert arrives to New Mexico State University and Young Park. Finally, in December, Christmas Carols and Luminarias set historic old Mesilla aglow.

Sports for the Spectator

New Mexico State University offers Division I NCAA college sports with 6 men's and 10 women's teams. Many games are held at Aggie Memorial Football Stadium with a capacity of more than 30,000 people.

Sports for the Participant

Las Cruces is home to more than 60 parks, many of which have playgrounds, picnic tables, and special events throughout the year. The city's four recreation centers have weight rooms and racquetball and basketball courts. Therapeutic recreation is offered at Mesilla Park Recreation Center. Summer programs include swimming, tennis, track and field, and computer camp. Other city recreation department offerings are soccer, football, softball, basketball, BMX, track and field, swimming lessons, volleyball, and boxing.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping in Las Cruces can be a delightfully varied experience. Mesilla Valley Mall houses 74 stores, including both national chain stores and small boutiques. Rated one of the top 10 open-air markets in the country, the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market presents more than 200 local artisans and farmers twice a week, year round. Visitors to Las Cruces are drawn to Old Mesilla, a picturesque village of galleries, unique stores and restaurants built around the town plaza, with buildings dating back to the 1850s. Mesilla is only five minutes from downtown Las Cruces. Visitors to Rancho Mesilla may sample a variety of chile pepper products while kids of all ages are entertained by llamas that roam the property. Also in Mesilla, Lowry Farms offers fresh or frozen berries, pecans, corn, flowers and ornamentals, and jams and jellies made on site.

Besides the wonderful Southwestern cuisine featuring dishes of local peppers and other produce, Las Cruces has more than 70 restaurants running the gamut from fast food and deli fare to Chinese, Japanese, continental, Italian, and, of course, Mexican fare.

Visitor Information: Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, 211 N. Water St., Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)524-8521; toll-free (800)FIESTAS

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Las Cruces: Education and Research

Las Cruces: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Las Cruces Public Schools is the state's second largest school district and the third-largest employer in Dona Ana County. Specialized programs include a Bilingual Education Program geared to English proficiency and academic and ultimately career success. There is also a preschool program for toddlers younger than kindergarten age, an in-school program for pregnant teens, and a drug abuse prevention program. A new "Drop Back In" Mentorship program matches at-risk student with adult mentors. There are also special vocational/technical programs featuring nontraditional, nonacademic training for fields such as construction. Programs for special education students and for the gifted or talented are strong.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Las Cruces Public School District as of the 20032004 school year.

Total Enrollment: 23,100

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 22

middle schools: 7

high schools: 4

Student/teacher ratio: 16:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $32,120

maximum: $54,587

Funding per pupil: $6,414

Public Schools Information: Las Cruces Public Schools, 505 S. Main, Suite 249, Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)527-5800

Colleges and Universities

New Mexico State University (NMSU), with 16,428 students, is home to six colleges: Agriculture and Home Economics, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Arts and Sciences, and Health and Social Service. NMSU offers 77 baccalaureate, 50 masters, and 20 doctoral programs, plus a specialist in education in four study areas. With 780 faculty members, the student teacher ratio is about 19 to one; about 81 percent of the faculty has earned doctoral degrees. NMSU offers Ph.D. degrees in engineering, business, agricultural science, and arts and sciences. NMSU is regarded among the top ten colleges and universities in the United States in research and development.

Dona Ana Branch Community College (DABCC), actually a branch of new Mexico State University and located on NMSU's campus, was instituted in 1973 to meet the needs of students who wish to achieve one year certificates and two year associates degrees in medical, technical, and business fields. The college's Adult Basic Education Outreach Program and Community Education Program have been noted by the U.S. Department of Education for promoting literacy and preparing individuals for high school equivalency exams. DABCC also has programs for high school students in Dona Ana County. Enrollment is around 5,000 and is expected to reach 7,000 by 2010.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Las Cruces public library, called Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, has more than 165,000 items which include audio, video, and microform media as well as print items. The library provides free internet access seven days a week, a Bookmobile, a Spanish Collection, almost 500 subscriptions to newspapers and periodicals, and a genealogy collection. The New Mexico State University Library holds over a million volumes housed in two buildings on the Las Cruces main campus. The Branson Library houses items pertaining to the Arts, Humanities, and Social Services, while the Zuhl Library contains government documents, special collections, and categories of Sciences, Engineering, and Business

Major research centers at New Mexico State University include the Engineering Research Center, which coordinates research functions in many engineering disciplines; the Physical Science Laboratory, which performs research, development, testing, and evaluation for NASA; The Rio Grande Corrido, which includes the NMSU computing research laboratory, focusing on artificial intelligence and genetic engineering; and Arrowhead Research Park and Genesis Center, specializing in research and development and providing affordable incubator space for small technology based start-up companies. The Carnegie Foundation ranked New Mexico State as a Level One research facility; it receives more than $300 million in total research contracts. Waste Management Education and Research Consortium helps develop environmental management resources; New Mexico Water Resource Research Institute explores water issues; New Mexico Border Research Institute plays an integral role in promoting international trade and cultural exchange; and the Advanced Manufacturing Center has a mission to enhance education, research, and business in the manufacturing industry. There are also the Arts and Sciences Research Center and an agricultural experiment station, and the university interacts with outside military and industrial research facilities in the area.

Public Library Information: Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho, Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)528-4000

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Las Cruces: History

Las Cruces: History

Long Before Humans

Before the first human inhabitants, the area around Las Cruces was populated by a teeming variety of reptiles and amphibians, who left many fossils when the great inland sea that once covered southern New Mexico retreated 600 million years ago. The Smithsonian has stated that the area holds "the world's best-fossilized footprints from the Permian Period."

Early Paleolithic Indians traversed the area about 20,000 years ago, and Anasazi tribes built cliff dwellings over most of New Mexico 10,000 years ago. The Mogollon tribe thrived in the Las Cruces region until they mysteriously disappeared around 1450 A.D. They left many petroglyphs, or rock drawings, scattered around the vicinity for scientists to gain a glimpse into their way of life.

Blazing A Trail

The first European visitors came to the Las Cruces area in 1535 when Spanish explorers, led by Cabeza de Vaca, passed through. In 1589, the first colonists arrived, led by Don Juan Onate, motivated by legends of seven ancient cities of gold. The group's livestock were driven in front of them, blazing a trail called El Camino Real, which led from Chihuahua, Mexico, to Santa Fe. Another trail blazed by this same group was dubbed Jornado del Meurto, or Journey of Death. As they attempted to forge a path more direct than the one which followed the meandering Rio Grande, the brutal desert conditions claimed the lives of many men and the Apaches claimed more.

Control of the region changed hands often from the 1600s to about 1850. The Pueblo Indians rebelled against their Spanish conquerors in the late seventeenth century and enjoyed self-rule for a time. In 1821 the Mexican Revolution overthrew the Spanish and created the Republic of Mexico. Soon after that, U.S. westward expansion caused friction and an eventual war with Mexico. This was resolved with the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, followed by the 1854 Gadsden Purchase, which claimed much of northern Mexico's land as U.S. territory. The region was even briefly under Confederate rule when Texas troops marched on it in 1862. They were later defeated by Union soldiers near Santa Fe.

After the Civil War ended, the Army installed Fort Seldon to help guard travelers against attacks by the Apache. The Buffalo Soldiers of the 125th Infantry, African Americans, were among the first to men the fort. With the coming of the railroad and more and more new immigrants, the Apache threat abated and the fort officially closed in 1891.

The small town of Mesilla is intertwined with the history of Las Cruces. Mesilla was founded by residents who were not happy with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and wished to remain Mexican citizens, hence moving across the Rio Grande. Ironically, the Gadsden Purchase a few years later placed them back under U.S. rule.

A Glimpse of Modern Las Cruces

In 1849 the first blocks of the city were laid out with rawhide ropes and stakes. Plots were quickly claimed by settlers and gold miners hoping to find their fortune in the Organ Mountains. The coming of the railroad increased growth of the town quickly. The Santa Fe Railroad had planned to lay track through Mesilla, which had been a depot of the Butterfield Stage Coach, but someone in Las Cruces offered them free land. From then on, Las Cruces grew rapidly while Mesilla remained a sleepy little border town.

Las Cruces continued to grow quickly yet rather quietly into the 1900s as New Mexico became the 47th state in 1912. The quiet was suddenly disturbed when the first atomic bomb was tested north of Las Cruces on July 16, 1945. The area used for the test site, fittingly, was the Jornado del Muerto area. The following year World War II ended and Las Cruces was officially incorporated as a city.

Today, Las Cruces remains one of the fastest growing metro areas in the nation, and the second largest city in New Mexico. In addition to thriving business in trade, government, and agriculture, the unique and stunning scenery of the region has made it an attractive place to film movies and music videos. Las Cruces celebrated its 150th birthday in 1998 with festivities that carried on into the millennium. It remains a true crossroads, not only of highways but of cultures and customs, which blend together amiably to become a very pleasant place to live.

Historical Information: Rio Grande Historical Collections, New Mexico State University Library, PO Box 30006 Las Cruces, NM 88003-3006; telephone (505)646-3839; fax (505)646-7477; email archives@lib.nmsu.edu

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Las Cruces: Population Profile

Las Cruces: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 96,340

1990: 135,510

2000: 174,682

Percent change, 19902000: 28.9%

U.S. rank in 1990: 208th

U.S. rank in 2000: 181st

City Residents

1980: 45,086

1990: 62,648

2000: 74,267

2003 estimate: 76,990

Percent change, 19902000: 19.5%

U.S. rank in 1980: 475th

U.S. rank in 1990: 396th (State rank: 2nd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 408th (State rank: 2nd)

Density: 1,425.7 people per square mile

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 51,248

Black or African American: 1,738

American Indian and Alaska Native: 1,289

Asian: 863

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 55

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 38,421

Other: 16,031

Percent of residents born in state: 46.7% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 5,195

Population 5 to 9 years old: 5,251

Population 10 to 14 years old: 5,054

Population 15 to 19 years old: 6,244

Population 20 to 24 years old: 8,771

Population 25 to 34 years old: 9,981

Population 35 to 44 years old: 9,976

Population 45 to 54 years old: 8,265

Population 55 to 59 years old: 2,972

Population 60 to 64 years old: 2,837

Population 65 to 74 years old: 5,280

Population 75 to 84 years old: 3,306

Population 85 years and over: 1,135

Median age: 31.2 years (2000)

Births (2002)

Total number: 3,081

Deaths (2002)

Total number: 1,129

Money Income (1999)

Per capita income: $15,704

Median household income: $30,375

Total households: 29,184

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 4,666

$10,000 to $14,999: 3,247

$15,000 to $24,999: 4,287

$25,000 to $34,999: 4,030

$35,000 to $49,999: 4,939

$50,000 to $74,999: 4,483

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,085

$100,000 to $149,999: 957

$150,000 to $199,999: 189

$200,000 or more: 218

Percent of families below poverty level: 17.2% (41.4% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

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Las Cruces: Communications

Las Cruces: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Las Cruces is served by the Sun-News, which is published every morning, and the Las Cruces Bulletin, a community newspaper that comes out each Thursday. Locally published magazines include New Mexico Farm and Ranch, a monthly covering equipment, techniques, and laws affecting the farming industry in New Mexico. The scholarly journal Tamara, covers organization science and is published out of New Mexico State University's Department of Management.

Television and Radio

Las Cruces has two AM and five FM radio stations that broadcast a variety of formats including country, Hispanic news/talk, adult contemporary, and public radio programming. The city has one public television station and one cable station.

Media Information: Sun-News, 256 West Las Cruces Avenue, Las Cruces, NM 88005; telephone (505)541-5400; fax (505)541-5498. Las Cruces Bulletin, 1210 East Madrid, Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)524-8061, fax (505)526-4621

Las Cruces Online

City of Las Cruces home page. Available www.las-cruces.org

Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce. Available www.lascruces.org/chamber

Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.lascrucescvb.org

Las Cruces Public Schools. Available lcps.k12.nm.us/LCPS

Las Cruces Sun-News. Available www.lcsun-news.com

Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance. Available www.mveda.com

New Mexico Department of Education school fact sheets. Available sde.state.nm.us/divisions/ais/datacollection/dcr factsheets.html

New Mexico Department of Labor. Available www3state.nm.us/dol

New Mexico State University Library. Available lib.nmsu.edu/siteindex.html

Southwest New Mexico Online Magazine. Available www.gilanet.com/swnmonline

Selected Bibliography

Harris, Linda G., Las Cruces: An Illustrated History (Las Cruces, New Mexico: Arroyo Press, 1993)

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Las Cruces

Las Cruces

Las Cruces: Introduction
Las Cruces: Geography and Climate
Las Cruces: History
Las Cruces: Population Profile
Las Cruces: Municipal Government
Las Cruces: Economy
Las Cruces: Education and Research
Las Cruces: Health Care
Las Cruces: Recreation
Las Cruces: Convention Facilities
Las Cruces: Transportation
Las Cruces: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1848; incorporated 1907

Head Official: William Michael Mattiace (since 2003)

City Population

1980: 45,086

1990: 62,648

2000: 74,267

2003 estimate: 76,990

Percent change, 19902000: 19.5%

U.S. rank in 1980: 475th

U.S. rank in 1990: 396th (State rank: 2nd)

U.S. rank in 2000: 408th (State rank: 2nd)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 96,340

1990: 135,510

2000: 174,682

Percent change, 19902000: 29.0%

U.S. rank in 1990: 208th

U.S. rank in 2000: 181st

Area: 52.22 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 3,909 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 64.0° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 8.5 inches rain, 3.2 inches snow

Major Economic Sectors: government/military, services, trade, education, agriculture

Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (January 2005)

Per Capita Income: $15,704 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: Not reported

Major Colleges and Universities: New Mexico State University, La Dona Branch Community College

Daily Newspaper: Las Cruces Sun-News

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Las Cruces: Health Care

Las Cruces: Health Care

Las Cruces has three medical facilities serving its health care needs. Memorial Medical Center (MMC) recently signed a 40-year, $150 million dollar agreement with Province Healthcare, which will enable it to add 99 private rooms to its 286-bed acute care facility. MMC offers emergency and urgent care, comprehensive cancer care at Ikard Cancer Treatment Center, imaging services, maternal/infant care, lab services, Memorial Heart Center for Heart and Vascular Care, outpatient surgery, Women's Health and Wellness, pediatrics, a neonatal care center, behavioral services, and various rehabilitation services among others. Additional services are offered at its new freestanding annex, Memorial HealthPlex, an outpatient surgery center with diagnostic imaging, lab services, and endoscopy. The Mesilla Valley Hospital, with 86 beds, offers adult and child psychiatric care, and chemical dependency treatment. The newest choice in health care in Las Cruces is Mountain View Regional Medical Center, which opened in 2002. It boasts a state of the art, full service emergency room and all private inpatient rooms. Among other key services at Mountain View are the Comprehensive Women's Center, cardiology services, surgery services, diagnostic imaging, inpatient rehabilitation, a pain management center, and an ADA certified diabetes program.

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Las Cruces: Geography and Climate

Las Cruces: Geography and Climate

Las Cruces is located 45 miles from the Mexican border and 40 miles northwest of El Paso, Texas. Bordered by the Organ Mountains in the east and the legendary Rio Grande on the west, Las Cruces is located in the heart of the fertile Mesilla Valley.

Las Cruces enjoys 350 days of sunshine annually, with less than 9 inches of average annual rainfall, which happens mostly at night, and only 3.2 inches of snowfall. Because it is situated over a natural underground aquifer, it does not suffer the water problems of a number of southwestern cities. Also, unlike many desert cities, Las Cruces experiences four mildly distinct seasons, with the harder part of the winter occurring during December and January, when the average daytime temperature is 57 degrees. Light snow does fall in the winter but seldom lasts longer than one day. June is generally the hottest month, with an average temperature of 94 degrees. The monsoon season, when heavy thunderstorms can occur daily, takes place in July and August.

Area: 52.22 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 3,909 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 41.5° F; June, 77.4° F; annual average, 64.0° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 8.5 inches of rain, 3.2 inches of snow

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Las Cruces: Transportation

Las Cruces: Transportation

Approaching the City

Interstate 10, which is a direct route to Phoenix, Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas, and Interstate 25, which is the direct route to Albuquerque and Denver, traverse the city's south end. U.S. Highway 70 presents a direct route to Interstate Highway 40 at Amarillo. The Las Cruces International Airport, eight miles west of the city, offers commercial service to Albuquerque by Mesa Airlines, and more recently to various cities in the Southwest by Westward Airways. Negotiations are ongoing for increased commercial air service out of Las Cruces, but more air travel takes place at the El Paso International Airport in Texas, about 52 miles to the south of Las Cruces. American, Continental, America West, Delta, United, Frontier, AeroLitoral, and Southwest airlines fly to over 70 cities from El Paso.

Bus and shuttle service is offered by Greyhound-Trailways, Enchanted Southwest Tours, and the Las Cruces Shuttle Service.

Traveling in the City

Local bus service is offered by Roadrunner Transit, and taxis are available from the Checker/Yellow Cab Company.

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Las Cruces

Las Cruces (läs krōō´sĬs), city (1990 pop. 62,126), seat of Dona Ana co., SW N.Mex., on the Rio Grande, in a farm area irrigated by the Elephant Butte system; founded 1848, inc. 1907. It is the second largest city in New Mexico and was one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the 1990s. Its economy is based chiefly upon agriculture and the nearby White Sands Missile Range, testing grounds for the first atomic bomb and a major military and NASA testing site. Cattle and sheep are raised, there is dairying, and vegetables, melons, corn, cotton, and pecans are grown. The city has food processing plants, wineries, and other light industry. The name, Spanish for "the crosses," refers to a massacre (1830) of some 40 travelers by Apaches on this site. New Mexico State Univ. is to the east. Nearby are the historic village of Mesilla, the picturesque Organ Mts., Fort Fillmore (1851), Fort Seldon (1865), and the village of Tortugas.

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Las Cruces: Introduction

Las Cruces: Introduction

Las Cruces, Spanish for "city of crosses," is located in the Mesilla Valley, a wonderfully varied area of forests, river valley, and vast desert. The seat of Dona Ana County, the city is near White Sands Missile Range, where the first atomic bomb was tested. The city's spectacular setting boasts the Organ Mountains to the east and the surrounding Chihuahua Desert, with the Rio Grande running through the middle. Since the end of the nineteenth century, the city has been the political, social, and business hub for southern New Mexico. The Forbes/Milken Institute named Las Cruces among the top three small metro areas for business and careers in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and Money magazine placed it in the top eight places to retire, based on factors such as weather, crime, and economy.

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Las Cruces: Convention Facilities

Las Cruces: Convention Facilities

The Las Cruces Hilton has 203 rooms and nearly 6,500 square feet of convention and meeting facilities, including a 5,000 square foot Grand Ballroom and smaller executive conference rooms. The Best Western Mesilla Valley Inn is the second largest hotel with 170 rooms, and six conference rooms that can accommodate from 16 to 400 people.

Convention Information: Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, 211 N. Water St., Las Cruces, NM 88001; telephone (505)521-2144 or (800)FIESTAS

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Las Cruces: Municipal Government

Las Cruces: Municipal Government

Las Cruces has a council-manager form of government with six council members elected by district serving staggered terms. Both the mayor and the council members serve four year terms.

Head Official: William Michael Mattiace (since March 2003; current term expires 2007)

Total Number of City Employees: 1,251 (2004)

City Information: City of Las Cruces, PO Box 20000, Las Cruces, NM 88004, telephone (505)541-2000

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