Rio Rancho Profile
Photo courtesy of the City of Rio Rancho
A Brief History
The City of Rio Rancho emerged from a 1960’s purchase of about 55,000 acres of property in Sandoval County, New Mexico, by AMREP Corporation (NYSE:AXR). The property was formerly the Koontz Ranch, which dates back to the Alameda Land Grant, founded by the Spanish in the early 1700s. The property was named Rio Rancho Estates by AMREP and the company platted the acreage into home sites, commercial lots, associated roads, drainage, and open space. Rio Rancho Estates’ proximity to Albuquerque, New Mexico’s moderate climate, affordability of lots, and an aggressive marketing campaign, encouraged people from throughout the country to purchase home sites. AMREP began construction of the first homes in Rio Rancho Estates in 1962 and estimates suggest that approximately 500 homes were complete by 1970.
From 1970 to 1980, Rio Rancho’s population rose to around 9,985 and the community was formally incorporated in 1981. By 1990, Rio Rancho’s population expanded by over 200 percent reaching 32,551 people in the 1990 Census. Intel Corporation helped fuel Rio Rancho’s growth when in 1980, the firm chose to locate microprocessor manufacturing operations in the community (along the City’s southern boundary in Sandoval County). Intel’s initial operations involved a modest 25 employees.
The City adopted its Home Rule Charter in 1992 and the Rio Rancho Public School system (RRPS) was formed in 1994. The City acquired the privately-owned water and waste water utility in 1995. Rio Rancho Boulevard (NM Highway 528) developed into the City’s primary north/south transportation and economic corridor. The Bureau of Census reported Rio Rancho’s 2000 population at 51,765 (a 59 percent increase from 1990 figures) and represented almost 58 percent of Sandoval County’s population.
With the addition of Quail Ranch in southern Rio Rancho (Rio Rancho’s newest master- planned community), the City is now part of both Sandoval and Bernalillo counties and comprises over 100 square miles of land. The Albuquerque MSA’s population exceeds 797,940 people and is comprised of Sandoval, Bernalillo, Valencia and Torrance counties. The MSA is the 62nd largest in the US and grew at almost eight percent from 2001 to 2005.
The City of Rio Rancho is located on the southern border of Sandoval County. Sandoval is the State of New Mexico’s second most populous and fastest growing County. The County comprises the Northern section of the Albuquerque MSA (MSA population: approximately 750,000) and encompasses 3,716 square miles of diverse geography and people. It includes the incorporated municipalities of Bernalillo, Cuba, Corrales, Jemez Springs, Rio Rancho and San Ysidro, numerous unincorporated communities, the chartered community of Cochiti Lake, all or portions of nine Indian pueblos, three Navajo Chapters and part of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. The municipalities of Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, and Corrales all border each other in Southern Sandoval.
The State of New Mexico is also one of four minority-majority states in the Union. Taking into account New Mexico’s largest university (University of New Mexico in Albuquerque) and the state’s most populous MSA, the metro area offers a unique and cultural experience.
The City of Rio Rancho comprises over 100 square miles of land and is just 30 minutes from the Albuquerque International Sunport and 60 minutes from Santa Fe, the cultural center of the Southwest. Rio Rancho has an estimated 2007 population of 76,000, and as the state’s fastest growing city, is setting high standards for both quality of life and conducting business.
With a fourth quarter score of 97.6, Rio Rancho has a cost of living index below the national average (the U.S. composite base is 100). The City also benefits from a declining New Mexico personal income tax. The personal income tax rate is being phased down from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 4.9 percent effective for tax years beginning 2008. Rio Rancho residents also enjoy a moderate four-season climate, affordable housing options, and one of the state’s lowest crime rates.
In 2005, Rio Rancho was named in Money Magazine as one of America’s Best Places to Live for the second year in a row. The community ranked 56th (up from 83rd) in a study of 745 locations and Rio Rancho received its highest scores in relation to jobs/economy and arts/leisure. For the past nine years, Men’s Fitness Magazine has ranked the Fittest and Fattest Cities in America. In 2007, Albuquerque ranked first for the fittest city in America, moving up from number 13 in 2006.
Rio Rancho has an educated population with approximately 25 percent of its citizens holding a Graduate, Bachelor or Associates Degree; at least 91 percent have high school diplomas. As a community, Rio Rancho values education. The school district is considered among the best in the state with a state-of-the-art high school that focuses on technology-related programs. A second high school is scheduled to be built on a 150-acre campus east of the City’s Central Business District. The presence of Intel in the community also draws a highly-educated trailing spouse population.
As the newest city in a state saturated with tradition and history, Rio Rancho uniquely combines the convenience of modern master-planning and pro-business government with the cultural values intrinsic to its geographic location. The City borders historic municipalities like “Duke City” (Albuquerque), the Town of Bernalillo, the Santa Ana Pueblo, and the Village of Corrales. Rio Rancho is proud of its cultural heritage within New Mexico and allows its residents a progressive location from which to enjoy it.
With the creation of a central business district, recruitment of a motion picture studio, plans for a major university, and a rapidly growing population, the City of Rio Rancho is solidly fulfilling its moniker and self-imposed mandate as “The City of Vision.”