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Culture, Jobs and Business in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Updated on January 20, 2015
City water tower.
City water tower. | Source

Las Cruces for College, Business and Retirement

The Las Cruces Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) covers southern New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. Las Cruces is home to the much respected University of New Mexico Cancer Center and New Mexico State University.

These two facilities attract attention globally in research and development for Cancer Prevention and Green Industries, with initiatives like petroleum substitutes made from algae and CO2; wind farms, solar and geothermal power, and emerging new technologies in energy

City Council and the Mayor's Office of Las Cruces have been busy in the 2000s and 2010s in bringing more opportunities to the city's youth in the form of education and job placement, internships, physical fitness, and the prevention of drug abuse. All of these movements have seen growing success and Las Cruces is recognized as one of the Top 25 Small Cities for Jobs and Business in the US.

The popular and useful Money Magazine calls Las Cruces a Best College Town In Which to Retire and AARP names it a Top Retirement City as well. Retirees that want to work can find ample job opportunities here. Always a tourist destination, the opening and first launches at Spaceport America nearby to the south will bring even more visitors into the area.

Map Location, Near El Paso, Texas and Mexico

LAS Cruces NM:
Las Cruces, NM, USA

get directions

Las Cruces itself means the crosses and is derived from the large numbers of grave marking crosses erected as settlers confronted Apaches and died here. Founded in 1849 during the Gold Rush Days, Las Cruces is also on the historic El Camino Real, or Royal Highway. This road ran from Santa Fe to Mexico City, passing through Las Cruces. Therefore, the city rose up as a supply center for miners prospecting in the the Organ Mountains and for the military that was posted at Fort Selden.

For Census2010, the Greater Metro Area consisted of over 90,000 people and was second in city size and population only to it's neighbor to the north, Albuquerque.

The decade 2012 - 2022 will attract many more people into the metro area as a result of increased jobs at Spaceport America, The Spaceship Company, and other aerospace firms moving into the southern part of the state.

Post-Secondary Education and Research

New Mexico State University:
New Mexico State University, 1780 E University Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88003-1229, USA

get directions

University of New Mexico Cancer Center - Las Cruces:
Memorial General Hospital Helistop, Las Cruces, NM 88001, USA

get directions

Located in Memorial Hospital and acting for Dx, TX and Research through UNM.

University of New Mexico:
University of New Mexico, Santa Fe National Forest, 4000 University Dr, Los Alamos, NM 87544-2233, U

get directions

San Albino Church, Mesilla Village, Las Cruces, New Mexico (public domain)
San Albino Church, Mesilla Village, Las Cruces, New Mexico (public domain)

Largest Employers

The major employers in Las Cruces are involved in Education, Healthcare, and Government Administration, as shown below:

  1. New Mexico State University
  2. White Sands Missile Range
  3. Las Cruces Public Schools
  4. NASA - Research and evaluation is conducted at New Mexico State University and White Sands Missile Range.
  5. Memorial Medical Center
  6. Mountain View Regional Medical Center
  7. Dona Ana County Administration

Downtown Revitalization

Mall reconstruction 2008 - 2009.
Mall reconstruction 2008 - 2009. | Source

Biopetroleum = Clean Green Oil

Made form algae, sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.
Made form algae, sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.

Algae - Biopetroleum

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University is located in Las Cruces and offers six separate colleges that include Agriculture & Home Economics [for which students and school athletes are nicknames "Aggies"], Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Arts & Sciences, and Health & Social Services. Exceedingly important research is ongoing in several of these departments to preserve the environment, to develop alternative energy sources, and to bring new jobs - particularly sustainability or green collar jobs - to the metro area and state.

Alternative Energy Research

IEE, the Institute for Energy and the Environment in the NMS College of Engineering at New Mexico State, is proceeding sin a $450,000 grant request to examine the commercial practicalities of geothermal, algae-based (algal) transportation fuel processing and a facility with which to produce this clean alternative fuel source. We can think of it as "green oil." Not only does it replace fossil fuels, but helps to reduce the CO2 in our environment.

The University is also researching and developing wind farm equipment for wider distribution throughout the Southwest.

As of October 30, 2008, New Mexico State is currently offering new master’s and doctoral degrees in Aerospace Engineering. These degrees can be applied directly toward space exploration and energy resource harvesting, such as from the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars. Thus aerospace and environmental engineering are joining forces in this way for the near future.

Degree Programs

See the link at for a complete list of degree programs. The main campus of NMS offers dozens of major areas from which to earn a certificate, a 2-year AA degree, or a bachelor's degree, with required licensing available, where needed. In addition, satellite community colleges around the Greater Las Cruces Metro Area offer certifications, licenses, and degrees as well.


New Mexico State University Athletics

Athletes are nicknamed the Aggies, representing the university's beginning as an agricultural land grant institution in 1888. NMS is also a NASA Space Grant facility.

Dona Ana Branch Community College

This high quality facility is a part of New Mexico State University, founded in 1973 to serve students seeking one-year vocational certificates and two-year associate degrees in Medical, Technical, and Business career areas.

Top 10 Jobs by Percentage Growth Over Previous Levels

  1. Home Health Aides (HHAs)
  2. Veterinary Techs
  3. Computer Systems Analysts - Computers and IT
  4. Physical Therapist Assistants
  5. Personal Care and Service jobs - Health and business related.
  6. Social and Human Services Assistants
  7. Database Administrators - Computers and IT
  8. Mechanical Engineering Technicians - Especially in the environment and alternative energy.
  9. Pharmacy Technicians
  10. Computer Software Systems Software Engineers - Computers and IT

Largest Increase in Numbers of Openings through 2016

  1. Education, Training, and Library related jobs
  2. Food & Beverage Preparation and Service
  3. Office and Administrative Support
  4. Personal Care and Service  - both health realted and for business.
  5. Healthcare Practitioners and Technicians
  6. Construction and Extraction jobs
  7. Wholesale/Retail Sales and related jobs
  8. Home Health Aides
  9. Construction Workers - especially in green construction and alternative energy.
  10. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners

Las Cruces Skyline

(Photos public domain)
(Photos public domain)

Additional Fast-Growing Jobs in Southern New Mexico

Two additional job categories that are increasing rapidly are in the Medical-Healthcare and Social Sciences fields.

  1. Medical Assistants
  2. Social Scientists and related workers - Includes positions such as technicians, interviewers, researchers, data input staff, aides, assistants and other titles.

NOTE: Social Sciences include sociology, criminology, anthropology, psychology, communications, economics, politics, social studies, geography, and history; and may include other disciplines.

White Sands Monument National Park

White Sands Missile Range in History and Business

White Sands, New Mexico, is famous for its national park and military, test pilot, and space port operations. Additional facilities have developed in White Sands as well, located just northeast of Las Cruces.

White Sands Missile Range is well known for its tests of missiles, bombs, and rocketry. It is near the White Sands Test Facility for rocket engines and the NASA Space Harbor, where Space Shuttle pilots receive their training. The Missle Range is the work site for testing and evaluation performed by 8 separate arms of the US Military.

White Sands was instrumental in many tests leading up to the initiation of the US Space Program, including aircraft testing by the USAF and individuals such as Chuck Yeager and Buzz Aldrin, among other skilled pilots.

Holloman US Air Force Base is located between Las Cruces and Alamogordo, very near White Sands. Today, new spacecraft are tested at White Sands for military and commercial uses, especially for defense and for the new market for space tourism. Look for more companies to join the testing as the Space Taxi and Space Plane become popular in the 2010s.

Read about the history of the White Sands Missle Range and other facilities at White Sands Missile Range Museum.

White Sands - First in Space

White Sands National Monument is Important

From around 10,000 - 12,000 years ago, the Indigenous Peoples that were ancestors to the Mescalero Apache Nation began to settle near the mouths of canyons around the sites of White Sands, Las Cruces, and other modern cities in the dessert.

Hispanics migrated up from Mexico and what is now Southern California to joins some of these Indigenous groups. Their descendants include the interesting Meztisa that have resulted from intermarriage. They live among the other diverse populations in Southern New Mexico today.

The actual white sands for which the town is named are comprised of gypsum that piles up and drifts in the wind to make ripples in the dunes in a large dune field. There is no water within these 275 square miles of dessert sands, which is the largest gypsum field in the world. It is a good place for viewing constellations and a Friday Night Star Talk Program is held regularly for visitors and residents in the area.

A movement to name this area a US National Park began in 1876, but was not successful until 1933, when the US Government named the desert gypsum field as the US National Monument for its size and uniqueness.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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