Business Briefs

Office Depot opened July 17 in its new location at DeVargas Center. Teya Vitu/The New Mexican

New Mexico GDP growth third highest in nation

New Mexico’s oil and gas industry fueled the third-highest gross domestic product growth among states in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

New Mexico recorded a GDP growth of 4.6 percent to start the year, behind only West Virginia at 5.2 percent and Texas at 5.1 percent, the bureau reported.

Neighboring states Arizona notched a 3.8 percent gain, Colorado 3.6 percent and Oklahoma 3.9 percent.

“Mining for the nation increased 26.5 percent in the first quarter after increasing 38.0 percent in the fourth quarter,” the bureau said in its written analysis. “This industry was the leading contributor to growth in several states, including the three fastest-growing states of West Virginia, Texas and New Mexico.”

The mining category includes oil and gas extraction, BEA spokeswoman Jeannine Aversa said.

That concurs with the view of Jeffrey Mitchell, director of the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business & Economic Research.

“The reason is almost certainly oil and gas, for which production for the same period was up 45 percent and 26 percent, respectively,” Mitchell said, referring largely to the oil boom in southeastern New Mexico.

Shops in DeVargas Center opening larger locations

Moving season has started at DeVargas Center.

Office Depot opened July 17 in its new 14,700-square- foot location on the east side of the mall in the former Regal Cinemas 6 space, said Katy Fitzgerald, senior project manager for Fidelis Realty Partners, the mall owner.

Tenant improvements for Home Goods will begin in mid-August in the former 22,281-square-foot Office Depot space at the southwest corner of DeVargas. A Home Goods opening is expected next summer, Fitzergerald said.

The 12-lane The Alley Lanes & Lounge is anticipated to open around the end of August in the former space of Traveler’s Market and Longevity! Strength Training and Fitness, she said.

Quintana Optical will be moving from its 333-square-foot space into about 1,000 square feet near the post office at DeVargas, Fitzgerald said.

State is partnering with LANL to provide degrees, jobs

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is providing $200,000 to train more than 50 students for radiological control technician and nuclear-trained operator jobs at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos (N3B).

The Workforce Solutions funding pays for tuition, books, fees, supplies, and partial wage reimbursement to train up to 30 students at Northern New Mexico College and the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Funding to train additional students will come from LANL and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

In partnership with LANL, NNMC is offering a two-year associate degree in radiation protection that prepares students for jobs at the laboratory.

N3B will offer a 22-month state-registered apprenticeship program to train nuclear operators in a partnership with NNMC and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Training Center. N3B manages the 10-year, $1.38 billion Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Meow Wolf posts record ticket sales in July

The eternal honeymoon continues for Meow Wolf with its House of Eternal Return.

The Santa Fe arts and entertainment collective said it drew record ticket revenue in July, though it did not disclose the amount in a news release. It said more than 62,000 people wandered the zany attraction on Rufina Circle, with July ticket revenue 20 percent higher than the prior July.

Meow Wolf attributes this to the May introduction of a timed ticketing system, in which visitors can select a specific time to step within the House of Eternal Return. Meow Wolf has found average wait times for timed ticket holders drops from three hours to about 25 minutes.

Meow Wolf on July 26 introduced check in times 20 minutes apart with the ambition to decrease wait times to 15 minutes or less, according to the news release.

Meow Wolf saw a 31 percent increase in out-of-state visitors in July over the prior July.

Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return opened in March 2016, and it is currently building or planning new interactive exhibitions in Las Vegas, Nev., Denver, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix.