Nature’s Toolbox bio-science company is an official Rio Rancho business and ready to change the world.
The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon at its new building, still undergoing renovation in some areas, on Innovation Way in Enchanted Hills.
NTx develops technology that creates biological medicine, such as insulin and mRNA vaccines, with non-biological processes that use smaller equipment and are faster and cleaner. It moved from a business incubator at Santa Fe Community College to Rio Rancho to accommodate its growth.
Company board member Charles McMillan, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the time has come for NTx’s technology.
“In my view, this is something that can change the world,” he said.
NTx co-founder and CEO Alex Koglin said the company moved in order to increase activity and have more space for manufacturing.
Actively hiring, Nature’s Toolbox has increased its staff from 12 people in December to more than 20 now. He said the company will surpass the 30-employee mark by the end of the year.
Koglin and other leaders aim to demonstrate that their technology can be applied globally.
The current technology for manufacturing biologic pharmaceuticals was developed 60-70 years ago when 5 billion people lived on the planet, he said. Earth has almost 8 billion people now, he continued, and last year with the pandemic is the best example of what happens when technology can’t keep up with demand.
“And we actively hope to try and change that,” Koglin said.
He said he truly appreciated the support of the state, the city and Santa Fe Community College.
Opening the ribbon-cutting, Rio Rancho City Manager Matt Geisel, formerly the city economic development manager and the state Economic Development Department cabinet secretary, said that in late 2020, he learned NTx was considering two buildings in the City of Vision or moving out of state.
“That is the biggest fear of economic developers,” Geisel said of companies leaving the state.
Instead, the state and city put together economic development incentives to keep NTx here as it reaches for a goal of 116 jobs with an average salary of $74,000 — “and a total payroll estimated at $74.5 million over the next 10 years,” Koglin said.
New Mexico Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia Keyes said the company would “change the face of bioscience here in New Mexico.” The state’s contribution to the economic development package is $5 million, with the city adding another $500,000.
NTx will have $190 million of direct economic impact over 10 years, according to her department.
“NTx is bringing vaccine technology into the 21st century,” she said, adding its scientists are working on universal flu, rabies and tetanus vaccines.
Mayor Gregg Hull said all the meetings to arrange the economic development agreement and NTx’s move were done via Zoom during the pandemic.
“I really believe in their tag line: ‘Better science; better health; better world.’ And today we celebrate a better Rio Rancho because they’re here,” Hull said.
He said NTx is committed to internships for local students and hiring New Mexicans to keep young people in the state.
“These are high-tech jobs of the future,” Hull said.
NTx board member and managing principal Thomas Nickoloff said the technology and equipment require security at the facility, but the company will participate in the community and interact with the colleges.
“NTx takes its responsibility very seriously,” Nickoloff said. “… We pledge to be an outward-facing, community-facing company.”
NAIOP RR Roundtable
Nature’s Toolbox was also the subject of the virtual NAIOP Rio Rancho Roundtable earlier Thursday.
“They’re already feeling right here at home,” Hull said then. “I’ve been excited about it since Day 1.”
Also during the morning webinar, Koglin said 90 percent of its employees hail from the Albuquerque metro area and Santa Fe. Looking ahead, he said the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) discipline among today’s students “is absolutely crucial going forward … giving them an education in what science means.”
— Added by Gary Herron