ALBUQUERQUE — NBCUniversal is coming to New Mexico.
The media conglomerate announced Friday it is entering into a 10-year venture with Garcia Realty and Development to redevelop an empty warehouse near downtown Albuquerque into a television and film studio with two soundstages.
The move, which backers say is projected to pump $1 billion into New Mexico’s economy and create over 300 jobs, was announced at a news conference attended by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mayor Tim Keller and company executives.
“When you look around the room, you see it’s big, it’s empty,” Lujan Grisham said of the free-span structure southwest of the Big I interchange of Interstate 25 and I-40. “I see the potential for something much bigger and much greater.”
When asked if she was concerned about the sustainability of film industry tax credits, a state incentive to help draw businesses, Lujan Grisham said, “You want to know why folks leave the state? It’s because they want to know they have job security for their families, because they want real careers. Because that was the attitude of the state; there were no real records about how you manage tax credits, or how that works, there was nothing.
“We have been really clear we know how to run state government,” she added. “We are going to be professional and we are going to account for those dollars.”
Over the next decade, NBCUniversal plans to produce television and film projects at the Albuquerque facility, with the goal of reaching $500 million in direct production spending.
NBCUniversal also agreed to a $500,000 marketing deal to promote the city and state.
The Cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Economic Development Department, Alicia Keyes, a former Walt Disney Co. executive who previously worked in Albuquerque’s film office, called a plan for NBCUniversal to provide jobs for young people a key win for the state.
Over the next 10 years, NBCUniversal is to provide $55,000 annually to fund training, along with offering one or two students the opportunity to shadow directors and receive a stipend. While Central New Mexico Community College was cited as one partner, Keyes said other universities will have the opportunity to access those funds.
“I think this is just the beginning,” Keyes said. “The economy needs a shot of energy, and these big companies do just that.”
The Albuquerque City Council still has to vote on an economic incentive package that includes $7.7 million from the state and $3 million in matching funds from the city, City Councilor Pat Davis said.
He said he expects the deal to pass easily at Monday’s council meeting.
“If you look at what happened with the Netflix deal, with the economic impact and the jobs, they’re very similar, and we saw overwhelming support to get this done,” Davis said.
In October, Keller signed a deal with Netflix that’s projected to bring $1 billion in revenue to New Mexico. The city provided the company a $4.5 million economic package, and the state has offered an additional $10 million after production milestones are met.
The streaming and production giant bought Albuquerque Studios for $30 million last year and agreed to spend at least $600 million in the state for at least five years while operating the studio and committed to $400 million for the next five.
According to that deal, Netflix is to create 1,000 production and filming jobs a year in the state.
“Netflix provided a really good template for us,” Davis said. “We’ve been working behind the scenes to check all those boxes before it comes to council this time.”
The first production to be housed in the new facility will be USA Network’s Briarpatch, a crime series starring Rosario Dawson.
The new studio will be at 1601 Commercial St. NE. A news release says the warehouse, which has been vacant since 2017, will house a film studio with two soundstages, an office and a mill.