A US $ 1 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant will enable a mechanical professions training center to double its size by moving from Los Alamos to the former Cariño de los Niños Charter School in Española.
Rio Arriba County received the grant from the Economic Development Administration, an agency of the US Department of Commerce.
The county will renovate a school building with the former cafeteria serving as a community center and the four classrooms serving as the training center, said Evan Crystal of the AmeriCorps Vista program in Rio Arriba county’s economic development department.
The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 412, based in Albuquerque, will move their plumbing, pipe assembly, welding and HVAC training center from Los Alamos to the former charter school, said Ray Trujillo, training director for Local 412.
The Los Alamos Training Center primarily places apprenticeships for the Los Alamos National Laboratory and some independent contractors working in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. Local 412 has four similar training centers for plumbing, pipe installation, welding and HVAC in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces and El Paso, Trujillo said.
The Los Alamos training center was opened in 2015 with around 20 trainees. That number has doubled to 42. The center now has to split groups in two and train four nights a week instead of two, Trujillo said.
“We pay $ 2,200 a month [for] rental fee [in Los Alamos]”, he said. “Just doubling it would cost $ 15,000 a month. We started looking in Española. We got wind of the fact that space was becoming free. “
Rio Arriba County took ownership of the school premises after the Cariño de los Niños charter school closed in 2018. Local 412 reached out to the county to bring the training center into the school, Crystal said.
Rio Arriba County provided $ 250,000 to secure the $ 1 million bond.
An opening date won’t be set until after a general contractor is on board, Crystal said.