ALBUQUERQUE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Mayor Tim Keller and company executives announced Friday that NBCUniversal is entering into a 10-year venture with Garcia Realty and Development to redevelop an empty free-span warehouse in Albuquerque into a state-of-the-art television and film studio with two sound stages, offices and a mill.
Over the next 10 years, NBCUniversal will produce television and film projects at the Albuquerque facility, with the aim of reaching $500 million in direct production spending. In addition, NBCUniversal and Garcia Realty and Development will jointly locate lighting, grip, and transportation operations at the facility, at 1601 Commercial St.
Alongside anticipated production spending, NBCUniversal will have more than 330 full-time jobs year-round at its New Mexico hub, generating an economic impact of $1.1 billion over 10 years. The total number of jobs, direct and indirect, should exceed 800, according to an economic analysis by the state.
The state of New Mexico Economic Development Department is providing $7.7 million through the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) and the city of Albuquerque is pledging another $3 million from its LEDA fund to the redevelopment and production commitment.
The agreement was announced at the Albuquerque production headquarters by the governor, mayor, Economic Development teams for the state and city, Edward T. Garcia and Carlos Garcia, as well as executives of NBCUniversal.
“We are growing New Mexico’s film industry, diversifying our economy and creating exciting jobs – this is a home run deal,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “I’m incredibly thrilled to welcome our state’s new partner, NBCUniversal. The media industry is increasingly vital to our state’s workforce, providing stable long-term employment for talented individuals of every age, from all parts of the state. I’m thrilled to be part of expanding that industry – and we will continue to do so.”
“Albuquerque is a top-five film city, and by adding film and television production operations to Albuquerque, we are positioning the economy for growth as we capture these new film industry dollars,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “When studios like NBCUniversal choose to expand and locate in Albuquerque, it establishes film as a permanent industry and provides steady ground for local film entrepreneurs, post-production work and a broad range of well-paid local jobs.”
NBCU will also provide consistent funding for workforce development initiatives in New Mexico as well as aspiring director internships. These key initiatives, among others derived from this partnership, will support the growth of the local crew base, support local educational and mentorship institutions and market Albuquerque and New Mexico.
“We are creating a significant film and TV industry cluster that supports high-salary careers in New Mexico,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “With NBCU as the latest major New Mexico film partner, the state has the opportunity to become one of the most successful production hubs in the country.”
“Film and television are thriving components within the rapidly expanding creative economy in Albuquerque,” said Synthia Jaramillo, the city’s economic development director. “We are excited to welcome NBCUniversal and have them join the momentum building here around film and television. With NBCUniversal selecting Albuquerque, it is clear Albuquerque has emerged as the next premier film and television hub, and we couldn’t be more proud and excited.”
“NBCUniversal has enjoyed a longstanding and productive relationship with New Mexico and Albuquerque and we are grateful for the opportunity to expand our presence in this community through our venture with the Garcia family,” said Dawn Olmstead, president of Universal Content Productions and Wilshire Studios, and Pearlena Igbokwe, president of Universal Television. “We are thankful for the support of Gov. Lujan Grisham, Mayor Keller and their economic development teams that have helped make our long-term investment in Albuquerque a reality.”
“My family is delighted to be able to play a role in advancing creative television production and jobs in New Mexico through property redevelopment and sensible public-private partnerships,” Edward T. Garcia said.
Upon completion of the studio conversions, estimated at $4 million, the new facility will be used by NBCUniversal to produce scripted productions for many platforms, including broadcast and cable channels. Currently, the USA network series Briarpatch, from Universal Content Productions and starring Rosario Dawson, has committed to film in Albuquerque. The Briarpatch pilot was filmed in New Mexico in 2018, employing about 200 New Mexico crew members and 350-450 background extras.
“NBCUniversal is a household brand name that people know and love, and we are thrilled to welcome this multimedia leader to join our community’s growing film industry,” said Jim Chynoweth, chair of Albuquerque Economic Development, Inc. “The company’s presence in Albuquerque further elevates our city as a great place for business investment, and NBCU’s production spending here will generate a positive economic impact through new contracts for local small businesses, and more jobs for New Mexicans.”
The deal comes just months after Grisham signed into law one of the most aggressive incentive packages for the film and television production industry in the United States. The new law doubles the annual payout for productions that come to New Mexico and offers a unique partnership arrangement for studios and producers such as NBCUniversal, which commit to do business in the state for a decade or more.
In order to build a permanent year-round workforce, the partnership studio businesses are exempt from the annual cap, thus bringing more certainty to production and budget planning.
The LEDA assistance is tied to specific economic development measures and subject to clawback provisions if NBCUniversal does not meet its benchmarks.