A Las Cruces company that specializes in aerial inspection and mapping services is planning a major expansion in New Mexico, more than doubling its highly trained workforce in Las Cruces and speed its global expansion, Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes announced.
LaSen Inc. has been awarded a state Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) grant of $750,000 to construct a larger headquarters facility, add new drones and helicopters, and hire 79 additional employees over the next 5 years.
The company will invest $8.4 million into a new 37,000-square foot location at the Pioneer Industrial Park, west of Chaparral Building Materials off of West Amador, south of the former San Saba Pecan in Las Cruces.
The average wage is $80,000 and the expansion is expected to have a statewide economic impact of $463 million over 10 years. The City of Las Cruces has made an additional $400,000 offer from its local LEDA economic development funds to the project. Lasen expects to move into the new facility in the summer of 2021.
“I’m thrilled by this expansion on the cutting edge in Las Cruces. We know even more high-skill, high-tech jobs that pay well in our state, and I know that we will continue to invest in New Mexico companies that want to build out that career infrastructure here in our state,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
LaSen has developed a niche in the oil and gas industry by providing detection of pipeline leaks and hazards using aerial observation from helicopters and drones, which utilize sophisticated LIDAR mapping, high-resolution video, and sensing technology that can detect leaks from 300 to 500 feet above the ground. The mid-infrared laser used by LaSen is particularly well suited for detection of hydrocarbons such as methane, propane, and butane, as well as volatilized liquid petroleum products.
The economic development assistance not only assists with physical expansion, it also gives the company the resources to move into new global markets by providing aerial leak inspection and safety monitoring of power lines to potential new customers in Australia, Canada, Belgium, Germany, and Portugal.
“LaSen is a company with a long history in New Mexico. It now wants to further invest in the state and expand its workforce so it can provide services around the world,” said Cabinet Secretary Keyes. “These new high-paying jobs coming to Southern New Mexico, as a result from our LEDA investment, will help diversify our economy and move the state toward recovery. LeSen’s expansion is part of a trend we are seeing, companies want to double down here or move from busier cities into New Mexico where they can have a better quality of life with their families.”
The aerial and unmanned technologies allow a more complete and safer inspection of power lines and equipment damaged by wind, lightning, or even animals. Aerial technology is quickly replacing the physical inspection of workers driving down rugged backroads and walking right-of-ways with cameras and notepads.
LaSen has its own flight operation and manufactures the LiDAR sensor. It also has its own maintenance and machine shop, which is at capacity in its current space, 300 N. Telshor Blvd., Las Cruces, according to La Sen President Tim Goolsby.
“We’ve been talking about getting out of this building for the last two years. LEDA allows us to make that decision a lot sooner and with a little more comfort,” Goolsby said. “We want to make the right decisions that will keep us in New Mexico a long time.”
The City of Las Cruces is the fiscal agent for the project and the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) provided location and technical assistance.
“We are excited to be in a position to help foster the growth of technology companies like LaSen, and bring high paying jobs to Las Cruces,“ said Mayor Ken Miyagishima. “The close collaboration between the New Mexico Economic Development Department, the City’s Economic Development Department, and MVEDA allowed us to quickly respond to LaSen’s needs and secure Las Cruces as their long term home.”
“It has been rewarding to work with the team at LaSen and assist in their growth here in Las Cruces,” added Davin Lopez, President and CEO of MVEDA. “Their expansion is indicative of the robust industry supporting aerial assets that can be found in the region and the opportunities we have to further grow this industry, with LaSen as our flagship.”
LaSen was founded in 1989 to commercialize technology developed for the Department of Defense, tested at White Sands Missile Range, to detect biological and chemical pathogens. The advancement into methane detection was a logical progression for Lasen, and in 2004, after being awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Grant (SBIR), LaSen developed the Airborne LiDAR Inspection System (ALPIS). ALPIS has inspected more than 500,000 miles of pipeline right-of-way, detecting more than 40,000 leaks, and saving more than 44.6 billion cubic feet of methane from escaping into the atmosphere.
The company has a quick-response model with 6 helicopters available in hangars in Fresno, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Denver, CO, Fort Worth, TX, Lexington, KY., and Vancouver, BC. Pilots work staggered schedules in several locations in order to be available 24 hours a day.
Release courtesy of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, posted 8/25/2020. View the original press release here…