New jobs, hope for slumping city

Global Fashion Technologies

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – An area that’s hurting for jobs is about to get a lot of them. The old Solo Cup plant near Belen shut down six years ago and left a lot of people out of work. Now, a new company has announced it’s moving in and it’s hiring hundreds.

“I’m absolutely excited,” Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova said. “You can’t imagine how much this is going to do for our town.”

A crowd gathered just south of Belen on Tuesday at the old Solo Cup factory off of Highway 304 to welcome Global Fashion Technologies to town.

“This is the biggest economic development project that Belen and southern Valencia County has seen in decades, probably going back two decades,” Cordova said.

The California-based company takes clothing scraps and uses them to make new clothes. It’s bringing 300 new jobs to the area.

CEO Tom Whittuhn says those jobs will pay anywhere from $12 to $20 an hour, an average salary of $40,000.

The company also picked up 40 acres for expansion in the future with the possibility of adding another 300 or so jobs.

It’s welcome news for those living nearby.

“I think it’s great because the people here really need the jobs,” Phillip Jones of Jarales said.

When Solo Cup left town in 2008, so did a lot of work, taking a toll on the local economy and those laid-off workers.

“They didn’t like the idea,” Chris Phillips of Belen said. “”Everybody is kind of used to things closing down around here anymore with the economy the way it is.”

Many are hoping that now changes. The company is looking to get operations started in the spring, hopefully April.

Whittuhn tells KRQE News 13 they looked all around New Mexico for the right spot. He says the Solo Cup building needs some work but not too much. He thinks they will need to bring in $40 million worth of equipment.

Jobs will range anywhere from warehouse-type work to skilled engineers. The company tells News 13 they will hold job fairs in the coming months.

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