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Local beef processor to expand, receives training funds

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USA Beef Packing LLC plans to hire 38 new employees during the coming year for a new processing and packing site. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

A local beef slaughtering and processing plant intends to expand its facilities and workforce, and it has received state funding to train employees as part of those plans.

USA Beef Packing LLC expects to hire 38 additional employees over a period of a year and received $232,321 in state Job Training Incentive Program funds Friday from the JTIP Board.

The only beef slaughtering business approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in eastern New Mexico, USA Beef is owned by Jose Madrid and his family. It slaughters, processes and packages both beef and bison at its 11,000-square-foot plant east of the city limits on Cedarvale Road.

The company has experienced about a 45% increase in customers during the past year, so it has acquired a new 13,000-square-foot site in the 1600 block of South Main Street. The new location will be dedicated solely to processing and packing. The new plant and additional employees will allow the company to increase its animal handling capacity from 110 head a day to up to 300 head, the company has indicated.

“They have already invested a lot of their own funds to renovate that facility,” said Michael Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp.

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Espiritu spoke in support of USA Beef’s application at the Friday JTIP Board meeting where the funding decision was made.

Madrid said that his company plans to open the new site by April.

“We are very excited about it (the funding),” he said. “It will help us a lot regarding our training. For a long time, there wasn’t a business like this in the area, so training for these jobs is needed.”

He said the number of employees at the current site varies depending on business demand and available labor, but the count was 41 as of Friday.

According to information from the JTIP funding application, the bulk of the award money will cover the wages of new hires. Audit fees will account for $1,250.

The new jobs will have an average pay of $13.94 an hour. But the range is $11 an hour as starting pay for six jobs as janitors, trimmers or lactic acid coaters, to a high of $40 an hour for one plant engineer.

The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. has been working with USA Beef since before it opened its slaughtering operation in Chaves County in fall 2017. The EDC helped the company obtain state financing for facilities and equipment through Local Economic Development Act funds. Chaves County is serving as the fiscal agent for the LEDA funds.

Espiritu said he has been working with USA Beef since he joined the EDC in October, helping to facilitate meetings with state officials and assisting in the preparation of the JTIP application.

“We work with our community and industrial partners to help them find funding to cover costs or to help create jobs,” said Espiritu.

EDC also worked with CAVU Aerospace Inc., Espiritu said. That company received a $527,054 JTIP award in January for training 37 new employees at its Roswell operation.

Espiritu said the work with the JTIP program is just part of the EDC’s larger and ongoing effort to work with public high schools, local universities and employers to develop training programs, internships and apprenticeships so that people can enter good-paying careers in Chaves County following high school or college graduation.

The JTIP program, which is administered by the New Mexico Economic Development Department, will pay 50% to 75% of the costs of training new hires for eligible jobs, according to an EDD website page. Only certain types of companies and jobs are eligible for the funding.

USA Beef’s application indicates that it has developed a training program that aligns with USDA federal inspection requirements for meat products.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.