Scientific Town Could Mean Good News for Hobbs

Scientific Town Could Mean Good News for Hobbs

Hobbs is in the running against Las Cruces to house a "mock city," designed to replicate a town of 35,000 and to be used for scientific testing. Alanna Quillen looks at what it would mean if a project of this scale would come to the city.
HOBBS, NM -- Many can agree - it's like something out of a sci-fi movie.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said Hobbs resident Kathryn Eades.

She's talking about a scientific testing town that might soon be built 12 miles west of Hobbs, New Mexico.

With underground labs, buildings, and a six mile interstate to test unmanned vehicles, it will cover 20 square miles of land and will mock a city of 35,000 people - the first of it's kind in the world.

And Hobbs is in the running against Las Cruces to house this "mock city." In this scientific testing town, researchers can test commercial technologies from smart traffic systems to next generation wireless networks.

"Of course since it's never been done anywhere, it will be something that is new and original to just here," Eades said.

The $1 billion town is called the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, or CITE.

Hobbs mayor Sam Cobb says if CITE were to come to Hobbs, it would bring a huge wave of capital and new jobs to the community.

"It will bring to us a group of people, by and large, that will have advanced degrees," said Cobb.
National and global companies will become regulars in the city.

"Even countries will get to come to hobbs," Cobb said.

And there could be up to 1,000 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs brought to the area.
But some residents feel that a project of this scale might not mix well with their current housing crisis.

"The housing in hobbs has a lot of catching up to do at the moment," Eades said. "We've had a lot of new industry come in here in the last couple of years."

Lea County has been working with the city, New Mexico Junior College and the Economic Development Corporation to ensure an adequate job force and housing is available in preparation for the potential project.

"Lea County and the city of Hobbs have both been very aggressive to increase the housing stock," said Mike Gallagher, Lea County Manager.

They're even looking to implement a workforce housing plan right now.

"Hopefully if this does come about, the housing industry will pick up, and building will pick up, and we'll have room for these people," said Eades.

Lea County is known as the "EnergyPlex."

"So, we have a good understanding on how to work with these different types of alternative energy producers, and this is a good project that will compliment what we already have in the county," Gallagher said.

Those kind of energy projects, like International Isotopes, and the $3 billion uranium plant have diversified the Hobbs economy.

"All of those are very unique to the area, and I think our community, both our city and our county, have demonstrated an ability to be able to operate on those platforms," said Cobb.

For the residents of Hobbs, that's good news.

"Of  course, it will put us on the map and we'll be able to be seen worldwide as an innovative place to live," Eades said.

CITE will come to a decision in the next couple of weeks on where they want to build this scientific testing town. Project organizers said wherever they end up putting the project, they plan to break ground on June 30.

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