SANTA TERESA, N.M. (KRQE) – In a one-two punch bolstering New Mexico food business, Santa Teresa is expected to welcome two new companies that are expanding operations to Doña Ana County. A Louisiana-based chile pepper puree company and a vegetable processor will open new facilities in the state’s Santa Teresa border zone.

The first company, New Orleans-based Louisiana Pepper Exchange, is said to be buying a 10-acre site in the Ironhorse Industrial Park. The company plans to hire roughly 20 people over the next five years with an average annual salary of $45,000, according to the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD).

Open since 2010, the company today specializes in making “pepper mash, pepper purees, and pepper powder [for] kitchens, co-packers and sauce makers worldwide.” On a consumer retail level, Louisiana Pepper Exchange sells pepper puree in jars using cayenne, jalapeño and habanero among other peppers.

State economic development officials say the company already has direct relationships with farmers in Mexico, Central and South America. The company is now said to be “exploring other opportunities with New Mexico’s rich chile-producing culture,” according NMEDD.

The state says Louisiana Pepper Exchange’s New Mexico site will including a 40,000-square-foot processing warehouse along with space for tank farms that can store 30 million pounds of pepper mash for sale to U.S. customers. The state is using $300,000 in LEDA (Local Economic Development Act) job-creation funds to support the project. An additional $100,000 will go to the project from the “NM Borderplex Closing Incentive,” a fund administered by the public/private Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) and the non-profit Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico.

Vegetable processing expansion

NMEDD also announced Tuesday the expansion of the Oro LLC vegetable processing company. Starting in the summer, Oro is expected to build a facility on a 20-acre site in the Santa Teresa Gateway Rail Park, which should open next year.

The company is promising to create 49 jobs in New Mexico with an average annual salary of $35,710, according to NMEDD. $750,000 in LEDA funds will go toward the project, which the start says is worth at least $19-million in infrastructure investments.

“The company provides bulk ingredient sourcing to processors and packaged vegetables for restaurants, food servicers, and retail customers,” NMEDD wrote in a news release about the project. “Oro has contract growers in Mexico and the United States and wants to boost relationships with New Mexico growers as it expands in the state.”

The Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance is also pouring funding into the Oro LLC project. $100,000 from the NM Borderplex Closing Incentive program is expected to be given to the vegetable processor in exchange for the investment.