Rio Arriba County has received a $1 million grant to help convert the former Cariño del los Niños Charter school into a workforce training facility for pipefitting and community center from the CARES act.

The County will also provide $25,000 of its own funding.

North Central New Mexico Economic Development District Executive Director Monica Abeita wrote in an email, “By renovating six classrooms into a plumbers’ and pipe fitters’ training center, which will (sic) assist local workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic and will lead to high-demand certifications that meet the workforce needs of national laboratories, business industries, contractors,and local communities.”

Rio Arriba County Manager Lucia Sanchez said in a press release that she expected the funds to help the local economy recover from the economic contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These funds will provide the County of Rio Arriba and the surrounding region with resources to address the economic hardships magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sanchez wrote. “Not only will this investment in our community support the development of much-needed infrastructure, program development and training, it will create a hub for our plumbers and pipefitters which will in turn create a model for locals to find good paying jobs close to home.”

In the press release from the United States Economic Development Administration Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said they expected the project to create around 50 jobs.

“This EDA investment in Rio Arriba County will support job creation through critical infrastructure improvements to assist workers displaced by the pandemic, providing opportunities for well-paying, quality jobs,” the release states.

Senator Martin Henrich said in a release that these sorts of projects were why he supported the CARES act.

“This new workforce training facility and community center will bring important new opportunities to Rio Arriba County,” Heinrich said. “This type of investment is exactly why I was so proud to pass the CARES Act to make sure we invest in a strong economic recovery in all of our communities.”

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