Back in May, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Economic Development Secretary John Barela announced with much fanfare that Pegasus Global Holdings LLC had chosen Lea County and Hobbs, New Mexico as the location for their $1 billion Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation (CITE) project aka the ghost town.
The “CITE City” project was supposed to be a ground-breaking concept of building an entire city from scratch with no residents, to be used solely as a proving ground for research technologies.
It would be a complete medium-sized American city, including its urban, suburban, and rural areas, built with standard roads, buildings, power, water, telecommunications and operating systems.
CITE will then allow clients to test the benefits and costs of their proposed next-generation innovations and technologies, hardware and software in fields like green energy, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), smart grids, telecommunications, resource development and security.
CITE was scheduled to create 350 new direct jobs and more than 3,500 new indirect jobs through construction of the facility, supporting industry, and contractors. The project was supposed to break ground in June 2012 for construction of the 15 sq mile site on parcels of both public and private lands.
At that time, NM Gov. Susana Martinez said that, “I’m proud that New Mexicois able to provide a home for a state-of-the-art project like CITE. We have worked closely with Pegasus Global Holdings to see the selection process through in order to bring jobs and innovation to our state, and I’m pleased that they are moving forward in New Mexico.”
But apparently they didn’t see it through completely, because Pegasus announced last month that the groundbreaking was going to be delayed. Now they say it’s off the table entirely because of “unforeseen issues with acquiring the land.”
They’re now back at the site selection drawing board, taking another look at 15 other communities in New Mexico which had earlier expressed interest in the project. Last time around, the battle had come down to Hobbs and Las Cruces. With Hobbs now out of the picture, Las Cruces likely begins as a strong contender.
Robert Brumley, CITE managing director, insists there are no problems with the billion dollar private investment the project needs and says the pull out was solely a site selection issue.
He adds that they are still committed to New Mexico, assuming a suitable alternative site can be found. But it’s a good bet there won’t be any announcements from the Governor this time if and when CITE announces the choice of another site.