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NMSU, Arrowhead Center moving ahead on Northern New Mexico AgriBusiness Accelerator pilot project

LAS VEGAS, NM – The Northeast New Mexico AgriBusiness Accelerator is coming to life in Las Vegas and the surrounding area.

Four people beside field
Suzanne DeVos-Cole, agricultural agent in Mora County, asks questions about plans for the two-acre training farm to be located at Las Vegas City Schools' former Memorial Middle School campus. The school district is providing land for the Northeast New Mexico AgriBusiness Accelerator project's training farm. Visiting the farm site were Yvonne Tallent, San Miguel County Master Gardeners president; Michael Patrick, NMSU Extension economic development specialist; and Leonard Ludi, Las Vegas area farmer. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)
People at table
NMSU’s Arrowhead Center led a planning session recently in Las Vegas for the Northeast New Mexico AgriBusiness Accelerator project to determine the agricultural assets available in the San Miguel, Mora, Guadalupe tri-county region available to expand economic development in the area. The group of community members listed what skills, knowledge and facilities exist in the area to promote agribusinesses in the region. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

The economic development program, envisioned and supported by State Senator Pete Campos, D-District 8, has two main goals that will address on-the-ground food production challenges and entrepreneurial development in the region.

The first phase of the pilot program, funded by New Mexico Legislative appropriation, is underway.

“It is not only the appropriations we have been working on, it’s the investment of people,” Sen. Campos said. “They are definitely buying into the fact that this is going to be the future of their region. We are seeing people within the communities and region becoming more invested with their time and expertise.”

New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service and Arrowhead Center’s collaborative efforts will combine the establishment of a training farm at Los Lunas City Schools’ former Memorial Middle School campus, the Speed of Business Boot Camps, and continued business development support to revitalize the region’s economy.

The NMSU Agribusiness Accelerator Training Farm will address challenges and opportunities for improving farm and ranch productivity; increasing production levels and strengthening local supply-chains, such as food hubs to move locally produced food to local markets, consumers and beyond; increasing value-added food and other product activities; and conducing entrepreneurship training programs for stakeholders in the region.

“Las Vegas City Schools is providing two-acres with water rights where people interested in farming will be taught planning, production and sale of fresh vegetables and fruits for local and regional markets,” said Michael Patrick, NMSU Extension community resource and economic development specialist.

The training will include workshops, field demonstrations and mentoring in all aspects of vegetable and fruit production.

“The farm will provide the farmers-in-training with access to land, water, equipment and tools,” Patrick said. “It will serve as a model that can be replicated across the state. The project will also leverage existing assets throughout the region where appropriate.”

Arrowhead Center, housed on NMSU’s campus, is facilitating strategic planning sessions with entrepreneurial and community leadership in Las Vegas and surrounding areas.

At the initial session, 28 members of the community began the process of assessing what agricultural skills, knowledge and facilities exist in the region.

“This effort will support the development and strengthening of our entrepreneurial network as part of the Arrowhead Community Entrepreneurship Program,” said Isabella Pedicone, senior program specialist with Arrowhead Accelerator Programs. “The planning sessions will help tailor the agri-business accelerator program to fit the needs of the community.”

Designed to address the challenges farmers and value-added agribusinesses are facing, the Northeast New Mexico Agribusiness Accelerator will provide businesses with an opportunity to grow and sustain successful ventures to increase jobs and income levels, and improve the welfare of families and communities in the region.