Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes announced that a 37-year-old family tortilla business is set to receive state economic assistance to expand its New Mexico production and reach more customers.
La Primera Tortilla Factory specializes in corn and flour tortillas, freshly wrapped and sold to consumers through grocery stores in Las Cruces and El Paso. The economic assistance will help the company grow manufacturing at its existing facility, 102 Palomas Pl., Sunland Park, 88063, essentially doubling its space to sell to schools. hospitals, jails, and other institutional customers.
“Homegrown family businesses are the cornerstone of New Mexico’s economy,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “The LEDA assistance to La Primera for expansion of its tortilla line shows that the State stands ready to support businesses of all sizes as they grow and create jobs.”
The company has qualified for a $50,000 LEDA job-creation grant for the expansion. La Primera plans to invest $2.7 million in equipment and add 14 employees over the next three years.
The LEDA project is the third in 2021 (Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Bueno Foods) to boost local food capacity and create jobs in value-added agriculture and food processing.
“La Primera started as a single family-owned grocery store in 1984 and is still operated by the family,” Cabinet Secretary Keyes said. “The State's assistance allows them to grow and bring jobs to Southern New Mexico, where locally produced food is an important part of the economy and culture.”
Juan Carlos Favela, secretary treasurer of the business, said the family business started by selling fresh tortillas wrapped in paper and stored in a container to stay warm for customers. It still sells that product, but also produces in quantity for regional retail stores. Customers include Walmart and Lowe’s grocery stores in the El Paso and Doña Ana County area.
The company saw a tremendous demand for its products during the pandemic and now the family feels more comfortable expanding operations.
“A lot of people call us from all over the United States,” Favela said. “We ship tostadas, we ship tortillas. We’ve always tried to keep it as fresh as can be. But we have never had enough space to do everything we want. Now with the State partnership we can expand in New Mexico, grow, hire new workers, and have financial stability.”
The City of Sunland Park is the fiscal agent for the project.
“La Primera Tortilla Factory is a testament of successful partnerships that prove that Sunland Park is the place to be," Mayor Javier Perea said. "The City looks forward to their expansion and is committed to connecting even more local business to resources that help them grow.”