SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (Border Report) – Industrial activity is ramping up on both sides of the Mexico-New Mexico border – much of it on the strength of chile, onions and gummy bears.

The Louisiana Pepper Exchange and Diamond Onion are moving into the industrial parks at Santa Teresa, N.M., while Mount Franklin Foods is closer to a previously announced expansion of its confectionery business across the border in San Jeronimo, Mexico.

“If you don’t know what chile-mashing is, imagine squeezing a chile until it becomes juice and put some vinegar in it. That becomes the basis for your hot sauce,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association, about what Louisiana Pepper Exchange does.

Pacheco told BIA members on Friday that in addition to those agribusiness investments, other companies are building 3 million square-feet of ready-to-occupy industrial space – what’s known as “speculative buildings.”

On the Mexican side, “Foxconn is expanding. There’s a new paper mill factory going in and they already have one gummy bear factory down there and they have a second gummy bear factory under construction,” Pacheco said.

Foxconn is a Taiwanese company that assembles computers and other electronic products and is the main job provider in San Jeronimo.

What happens in Santa Teresa has a strong bearing on the economy of New Mexico. The state’s exports grew to $5.4 billion in 2021 and a good part of that trade passed through the Santa Teresa port of entry.

The state is encouraging even more growth – and a more efficient flow of the commerce – by funding new infrastructure. Dona Ana County a few months ago approved $20 million for the Santa Teresa aviation facility known as Dona Ana County Jetport, and a private investor, Burrell Aviation, has committed $72 million to build facilities for handling air cargo, storage and aircraft maintenance.

“There’s a long waiting list of people that want to go in and put their airplanes on a hangar,” Pacheco said. “Eventually we want to build a cross runway so we can land the heavier classes of aircraft there.”

And the New Mexico Border Authority is now in the pre-construction phases of a highway that will run parallel to the border wall from the Santa Teresa port of entry to Sunland Park and then veer north leading to El Paso’s Loop 375.