$1 million federal grant helps plumbing/pipefitting training center to move from Los Alamos to Española | Business

With a $1 million federal CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant, a mechanical trade training center can double in 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 within the United States Department of Commerce.

The county will renovate one school building, which will house the former cafeteria as a community center and the four classrooms that house the training center, said Evan Crystal of the AmeriCorps Vista program within the Rio Arriba County Department of Economic Development.

The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 412, based in Albuquerque, will move its plumbing, pipe fitting, welding and HVAC training center from Los Alamos to the former charter school, said Ray Trujillo, training director of Local 412.

The Los Alamos Training Center primarily supplies students to Los Alamos National Laboratory and some independent contractors working in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. Local 412 has four similar plumbing, pipe fitting, welding and HVAC training centers in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces and El Paso, Trujillo said.

The Los Alamos training center opened in 2015 with approximately 20 trainees. That number has doubled to 42. The center now has to split groups into two and train four nights a week instead of two, Trujillo said.

“We pay $2,200 per month [for] rent [in Los Alamos],” he said. “Doubling in size alone would cost $15,000 a month. We started searching in Española. We got wind of space being released.”

Rio Arriba County took over ownership of the school property after the Cariño de los Niños Charter School closed in 2018. Local 412 approached the county to bring the training center to the school, Crystal said.

Rio Arriba County matched $250,000 to secure the $1 million bond.

An opening date will not be determined until after a general contractor is on board, Crystal said.

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