Cheese plant receives state funding

CNJ staff

SANTA FE — Southwest Cheese Company has been awarded $718,456 in state funding, officials said.

The grant will go to help fund 79 new jobs with an average annual salary of $35,800, according to a news release from Economic Development Department Secretary Rick Homans.

“JTIP (Job Training Incentive Program) is a crucial part of our strategy to create new, good jobs for New Mexicans,” Homans said. “Companies like Southwest Cheese … build our economic base, and we want to continue to do everything we can to help them grow and succeed.”

Companies in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Taos were also awarded funds that totaled $1.36 million to fund 215 new jobs, Homans said.

Southwest Cheese, a cheese processing plant, began construction near the Roosevelt/Curry County line last February. The facility is expected to be operational in October. It’s expected to employ 220 people, producing 250 million pounds of cheese annually.

In addition, Southwest Cheese is a market for the region’s dairies, which previously shipped much of their milk out of state for processing.

Construction of the plant has also boosted eastern New Mexico’s economy by employing 700 workers.

State officials promote JTIP as a flexible, aggressive and competitive job-training incentive package. It provides for classroom or on-the-job training, reimbursing an expanding or relocating business for 50 to 65 percent of a trainee’s wages for as long as six months.

To qualify, new or expanding companies must either create a product in New Mexico, or provide a non-retail service with 60 percent of its customer base outside of the state. The eligible jobs must be full-time and year-round. The trainee must be a new hire to the company and a New Mexico resident for at least one year.

Southwest Cheese officials last week issued a news release announcing they’re “beginning to hire … key production personnel.”

Applications are available on the Southwest Cheese Web site at:

Deadline for submitting applications is Thursday, the news release said.