Starting as the “Rio Rancho Estates” housing development, the city of Rio Rancho saw a large population increase between 1970 and 1980, and finally became incorporated in 1981. Residents have nicknamed Rio Rancho “The City of Vision” and it certainly appears to be true.
The area in which Rio Rancho is located was originally part of the Alameda Grant, which was founded by the Spanish in 1710. By the early twentieth century, much of the land grant had been sold to land investment companies and the future of the city began when Amrep Corporation purchased 55,000 acres in 1961.
The first families moved to the area in the 1960s and the city has witnessed steady growth since that time. The opening of a large Intel Corporation plant in 1981 had a major economic impact on the city and when Wal-Mart came to Rio Rancho in early summer of 2006 it marked the beginning of several new commercial retailers locating to the area.
Rio Rancho has been home to industry and local government milestones, such as the site of Intel’s “Intel Fab 11X”, the largest and most advanced semiconductor plant in the world. The fully-automated facility opened in 2002 and was the first Intel plant to manufacture 300 mm silicon wafers, which can hold almost twice as many chips as the standard 200 mm wafers. In 2005, Rio Rancho became the first U.S. city to offer citywide voice-over-WiFi (VoWiFi) service.
Striving to become a more independent community, Rio Rancho has established a separate school and library system and is attracting more businesses to the area every year.
With an estimated population of Rio Rancho at roughly 80,000 people, the city has a comfortable blend between modern convenience and the feel of a smaller community.