Questions raised about Spaceport firm's NM ties - East Valley Tribune: Business

Questions raised about Spaceport firm's NM ties

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Posted: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 4:21 pm | Updated: 3:24 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A company that won a $32.5 million contract for construction at Spaceport America received credit for being a New Mexico business, but questions have come up over how much of a presence the firm maintains.

According to a copyright story Wednesday in the Albuquerque Journal, Summit West appears to have two offices, and the one in Albuquerque contained nothing but an unplugged telephone this week.

The company lists its corporate headquarters in Phoenix. Its Web site says it has completed only one project in New Mexico and has another in progress.

Summit West won the $32.5 million contract to build Spaceport America's terminal-hangar facility, aided by an in-state preference credit.

In a November news release announcing the contract, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority called "Summit West of Albuquerque, New Mexico," a company with "a strong history of construction in New Mexico and throughout the Southwest."

Although the news release said the company's New Mexico headquarters are located in Albuquerque, the Journal on Tuesday visited an address listed on its Web site — 3200 Carlisle N.E., Suite 114 — and found no business activity.

The office door was closed, lights were off, blinds were drawn, and a building receptionist told the newspaper no one was there.

Building owner Charles Walker said Summit West has been renting space for less than a year. He said he's never seen anyone inside the offices.

"They have an office here, but they are not here," he said.

Toni Balzano, deputy cabinet secretary for the Economic Development Department, suggested Summit West moved its offices to trailers at Spaceport America after getting the contract and eventually will return to Albuquerque.

She said Summit West was "given in-state preference" by the state Purchasing Office during the contract bid process — a 5 percent credit for state companies to make them competitive with outside bidders.

"They do have Albuquerque offices and I do understand for all intents and purposes they are a New Mexico company," Balzano said.

She said Summit West has six management employees at the spaceport and 280 workers.

Summit West's Web site lists a Phoenix address as its corporate office. A listing with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission shows the same address for Jeffrey C. Stone Inc.

A representative didn't immediately return a telephone message left Wednesday by The Associated Press at the Phoenix offices.

A Phoenix address also is listed as part of the company's contractor license with the state of New Mexico. The company has been licensed as a contractor in New Mexico since 1991.

Construction on the spaceport's terminal and hangar facility is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2011.

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