Rio Rancho, NM a Magnet for Tech
Rio Rancho attracts and grows sophisticated technology businesses
Intel’s campus in Rio Rancho includes two chip-manufacturing plants. The company is New Mexico’s largest industrial employer.
When Noreen Scott, president of Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp., talks up her city to a prospective high-technology enterprise, one of her top selling points is Intel, the developer and manufacturer of computer chips such as the Pentium and Celeron processors. The operations of Intel New Mexico, the state’s largest industrial employer, are in Rio Rancho.
“We have a wonderful environment here and well-educated workers. We certainly have had success with Intel growing here, so we have a high-tech employment base already in Rio Rancho,” Scott says.
Intel New Mexico employs more than 5,200 people and contracts with another 3,500. The company’s 2005 payroll was $304 million, and its impact on New Mexico’s economy is estimated at $1 billion annually.
“When we started in Rio Rancho in 1980, we began our operations with fewer than 25 employees,” says Elizabeth Shipley, Intel New Mexico communications manager. The company’s two Rio Rancho manufacturing plants, known as FAB 11 and FAB 11X, “are among the most advanced microchip-making facilities in the world,” she says. The Intel campus includes more than 4 million square feet of manufacturing facilities and office space.
Rio Rancho’s Scott notes that Central New Mexico is “disaster free,” without hurricanes or tornados that can shut down operations in some other parts of the United States. “If Internet (access) or electricity is crucial to you, we’re very much an alternative site for companies that worry about that sort of thing,” she says.
Rio Rancho is also home to Lectrosonics, known worldwide as a leader in wireless audio technology used primarily in film and television production.
Wireless technology is nothing new to the residents of Rio Rancho, who enjoy free citywide Wi-Fi Internet access, thanks to a forward-thinking municipal government. It is one of the largest wireless broadband programs in the world.