LOS LUNAS — Expansion of the village of Los Lunas just received a boost from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is investing $1.3 million in Los Lunas for water infrastructure improvements to support business growth in the village. The project is expected to create 3,000 jobs.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the Department’s Economic Development Administration is awarding the grant to the village to make critical water infrastructure improvements in support of business development in the region.

“It’s great that we received the grant,” said Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego. “I think the EDA is looking for job creation and thinks this is a good project.”

The project will install a 21,000-foot potable water pipeline that will run along N.M. 6 to the western edge of the village and the Central New Mexico Rail Park.

The Rail Park will increase intermodal freight capabilities in the region, which will power the growth of the manufacturing, warehousing and distribution industries.

“Strengthening New Mexico’s freight infrastructure is critical to connecting our local businesses with the world and strengthening our state’s economy,” wrote Sen. Tom Udall in a press release. “This major water investment will support significant job growth and economic diversification in Valencia County for years to come.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich said economic development depends on 21st century infrastructure improvements like this, which was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Mid-Region Council of Governments.

“EDA funds the Mid-Region Council of Governments to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development road map to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs,” Heinrich wrote in a press release.

The grant was pursued about a year ago by Los Lunas Public Works Director Michael Jaramillo, who said it is a 50/50 grant that the village will match with LEDA funds the state awarded for the Facebook Data Center’s infrastructure needs.

“This definitely opens the door for economic opportunity,” Jaramillo said.

The grant will be used in the first phase of a two-phase process, which includes building a sewer line. Jaramillo is currently looking for the funding for the second phase.

The village hopes to hold a project meeting on how to administer the $1.3 million grant by the end of the month, and start the design process between September and December. The village expects the request for proposals to go out in the first quarter of 2019.

The project is expected to be completed around this time next year, Jaramillo said.

Other private entities who will benefit from the potable water line will also be contributing funding for the water line.

“By leveraging new business opportunities through infrastructure improvements, the Trump administration is creating thousands of jobs in countless American communities,” Ross wrote in a press release. “The increased capacity of the local water infrastructure will improve the competitiveness of Los Lunas’ business community.”

Tim Cummins, co-owner of the CNM Rail Park, said the park has completed the studies and reports required for it to be put on the manufacturers’ list. He said they will have an announcement of their own in the next couple of weeks.

“It takes years to be an overnight success,” Cummins said. “There are so many people to thank. I want to say thank you, starting with the village, EDA staff, BNSF staff, Bernalillo County for their early support and regional approach to job creation, the utility companies. We worked with PNM about what the power requirements are going to be ... big projects don’t happen without a whole lot of support from different entities.”

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