Managers with AEVEX Aerospace hold an open house June 14 for area business and government leaders at a site at the Roswell Air Center near Will Rogers Road that they use for testing and training of aircraft, drones and equipment the company modifies and installs. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)
Business deals at the Roswell Air Center continued to dominate local economic development headlines in 2021, but other growth included real estate developments and work on large industrial projects.
A major development at the Roswell Air Center during the year was the arrival of a new corporate tenant. AEVEX Aerospace, based out of Solana Beach, California, announced to the public in June that it had purchased the Matrix Group in April. The Matrix companies included the former Matrix International Security Training Intelligence Center (MISTIC) site on Will Rogers Road.
Company executives of the aviation and intelligence company said it would keep the former MISTIC site as a training and testing location.
AEVEX has locations in eight U.S. states and works with 25 countries as it modifies aircraft and drones to meet customers’ specifications and flight-certifies the altered crafts afterward. The company also installs equipment for intelligence gathering and monitoring, and collects and analyzes data and intelligence. Its clients include defense contractors, the U.S. military, allied foreign governments, the U.S. Forest Service and law enforcement.
Brian Raduenz, chief executive officer of AEVEX, said in June that the company intended to grow the Roswell operations, which had about eight employees. Overall the company has more than 500 employees and earns about $150 million a year in revenues.
Negotiations over the new wide-body hangar for Ascent Aviation Services, based in Arizona, moved forward during the year. Ascent Aviation announced in September 2020 that it planned to open a Roswell maintenance, repair and overhaul operation at the Air Center, eventually hiring as many as 360 aircraft maintenance workers and support personnel. When the company starts operations in spring or summer 2022, it is expected to have at least 100 employees and an annual payroll of $7 million.
The company plans a two-phase hangar project, with the first phase to involve a structure 10 stories high and 300-feet long by 300-feet wide.
The fabric hangar will be located on Air Center land at the corner of West Earl Cummings Loop and Mathis Street. The city and county have signed legal agreements that have allowed the city to move forward with site work while utilizing $3 million of a $5 million capital outlay award given to the county.
Other major economic news for the city included New Mexico land developers unveiling their plans in April 2021 for a large residential subdivision in northwest Roswell at Sycamore Avenue and West Country Club Road.
The Oaks is a joint venture of MAC Real Estate Inc. of Albuquerque and DWD Consulting of Piñon and could have up to 800 single-family homes. One of the partners of DWD Consulting said that his company had completed a similar project in Hobbs, selling the last homes in 2021 after six years of work on the project.
A new housing subdivision, El Toro Housing Community, also is being constructed in south Roswell near South Main and Gayle streets. The builder, Artisan’s Guild Construction LLC of Lovington, began work in July on the first phase of the development that could eventually have 97 homes.
City of Roswell Community Development Director Kevin Maevers announced in September that several entities had filed plans to build or renovate retail and office developments. One plan is for a new retail center on North Main Street near Tierra Berrenda that will include a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, with the restaurant company confirming its plans to open its first location here. Another project involves the purchase of the Wilshire Shopping Center by Olive Tree Investments Inc., an investor group that includes Roswell residents. The group plans a “major” renovation of the shopping center on North Main Street and East Mescalero Road that originally was built in 1968. The investor group expects to bring a couple of new businesses to the city, including a Popeye’s fast-food restaurant.
In August, Admiral Beverage Corp. broke ground on its large warehouse and distribution center in southeast Roswell at 515 E. Brasher Road. Company officials said that they expect to hire seven more people once construction of the 110,000-square-foot facility is completed.
The Roswell operations have been around for about 20 years and now employ about 68 employees, with a current distribution site on South Atkinson Avenue. Seven new hires would increase annual payroll for Roswell operations by about $303,000. The corporation, which distributes alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in seven states, intends to work with the city to issue up to $9 million in industrial revenue bonds to be paid by the company and its affiliates to finance the new facility.
Leprino Foods Co., the city’s largest private employer with about 600 workers, is continuing the upgrade of its Roswell plant on Omaha Road. On June 10, the Roswell City Council approved the ordinance that allowed the company to issue up to $60 million more in industrial revenue bonds to pay for a second phase of upgrades, described as wastewater system and utilities improvements. A first phase of renovations, financed with about $90 million in industrial revenue bonds, involved construction of a new wet whey facility and freezer, with work beginning on those projects in 2019.
Leprino, a global corporation, has operated in Roswell at the Omaha plant for about 28 years, with the plant being about 30 years old.
On Dec. 28, Tom Krumland, owner of the Krumland Auto Group, presented the company’s plans to the city of Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission for an expansion of auto dealerships on West Second Street, to include a new Ford dealership. Construction costs are estimated at $25 million.
Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.