US (NM): Doña Ana County to claw back money from greenhouse

Doña Ana County officials on Tuesday OK'd a plan to take back $170,000 in public incentive money issued to a Mesilla Park greenhouse company that didn't fully deliver on its pledge to create new jobs.

Commissioners voted to OK a settlement agreement with New Mexico Greenhouse Holdings II, a Colorado limited-liability company that had launched a greenhouse operation at the former Aldershot Nursery in Mesilla Park in 2015.

In February 2016, the state issued a $250,000 economic development grant to the company in return for a pledge to create an average of 120 new full-time jobs within four years. The state channels such dollars, awarded through what's known as the Local Economic Development Act, to the county, which in turn awards the money to companies.

LEDA is viewed as New Mexico's version of a closing fund, meant to spur economic growth.

An apparent curtailment of the greenhouse company's operations in early June at its property just south of the Las Cruces city limits sparked concern among county and state officials. Furthering that concern were demolition activities involving the company's numerous greenhouses and an advertised July 14 public auction of much of the company's mechanical equipment. The greenhouses and the equipment were collateral in the company's contract with the state and county, according to court records.

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