Albuquerque, Oct 9 (AP/UNB) — Netflix has chosen New Mexico as the site of a new U.S. production hub and is in final negotiations to buy an existing multimillion-dollar studio complex on the edge of the state's largest city, government and corporate leaders announced Monday.
It's the company's first purchase of such a property, and upcoming production work in Albuquerque and at other spots around New Mexico is forecast to result in $1 billion in spending over the next decade.
More than $14 million in state and local economic development funding is being tapped to bring Netflix to New Mexico. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, touted the investment and said lengthy efforts to put New Mexico on the movie-making map are paying off.
"This is awesome," the governor told dozens of people gathered inside a cavernous sound stage at ABQ Studios. "This massive investment will have a huge impact of course on New Mexico and continue our efforts to grow and diversify the economy."
Martinez acknowledged the state's reliance on federal funding and oil and gas development, saying more needs to be done to encourage diverse ventures such as Netflix as the private sector is the backbone of the American economy.
Keller said the city has laid the groundwork to make sure the film industry is part of its economic development plan. He called landing Netflix a "transformative victory" for the city.
Netflix projects produced in New Mexico include the Emmy Award-winning limited series "Godless" and "Longmire." Company officials said previous experience working in the state inspired them to jump at the opportunity to establish a new production hub in Albuquerque.
Netflix earlier this year announced it was establishing its first European production hub in Spain. That operation is expected to help the online video entertainment platform expand its Spanish-language content.
It also has a production hub in Los Angeles and it's possible the company's footprint will continue to expand, given the amount of content the online entertainment provider is aiming to create.
"We will look at each place on its merits — the same kind of decision-making that went into the impending purchase of this studio," said Ty Warren, Netflix's vice president for physical production. "The combination of great crews, existing infrastructure, financial incentives — it was all part of it."
Netflix has about 130 million subscribers worldwide.
Officials did not release details about the sales price of the studio complex in New Mexico. The property includes several sound stages, production offices, mill space and a back lot.
Martinez, whose second and final term ends this year, initially talked about trying to rein in New Mexico's film incentive program and an annual $50 million cap was instituted.
As the state dug its way out of the recession, she said it was important to avoid cuts to critical programs such as education, health care and public infrastructure. She was criticized by many who thought the cap would stifle the growth of the film industry.
In 2013, she signed the "Breaking Bad bill," named after the Emmy-winning TV drama that filmed primarily in Albuquerque during its five seasons. The legislation enhanced incentives for television productions.
Martinez said the industry has since marked three consecutive record-breaking years in New Mexico and it is lining up to be another monumental year.
The industry has drawn more in-state direct spending from film and TV productions each year since 2014, topping out at $505 million last fiscal year, according to the state film office.