First Choice Receives $1 million EDA Grant for Workforce Training Center
Project is part of larger South Valley Community Development Project
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently announced a $1 million grant to First Choice Community Healthcare for a development that includes a workforce training center.
The grant will allow First Choice to break ground on a $22 million community development project in the South Valley. The funds pay for engineering, design and installation of water, sewer, storm drainage and other infrastructure on 7.5 acres owned by First Choice adjacent to its South Valley Health Commons.
“This investment is a strong endorsement of our plan to create a development that addresses the root causes of poor health in the South Valley, which are linked to poverty and low educational attainment,” said Robert DeFelice, Chief Executive Officer of First Choice Community Healthcare.
EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process to viable projects that stimulate job growth and economic activity in economically-distressed communities. The South Valley’s 12.5% unemployment rate and $16,390 per capita income made it the ideal place to invest in a workforce training center.
“The EDA’s grant will ensure a brighter future for the South Valley by providing workers with the tools they need to compete successfully for 21st century health sector jobs,” said U.S. Senator Tom Udall. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was proud to support this grant by EDA to help strengthen First Choice’s innovative efforts to build healthier communities in the South Valley by promoting healthy, local food, and providing critical educational opportunities for the community. With this important work, EDA and First Choice are creating good jobs, stimulating the economy and sending a message of hope to South Valley families.”
The Workforce Training Center is connected to Health Leadership High School, a charter school in its fourth year at a temporary location. The charter school will have its permanent campus adjacent to the Workforce Training Center on the same campus as the existing South Valley Health Commons clinic.
The community development project is dubbed the South Valley Community Commons and includes the workforce training center, Health Leadership High School, a child development center, a wellness center, a food hub facility and farm, a farm-to-table-style restaurant and commercial lease space.
An independent economic analysis commissioned by Bernalillo County Economic Development Department concluded that the project will create 181 permanent jobs (100 direct and 81 indirect) and generate $135 million in economic activity in the first 10 years of operation. The project’s construction is expected to pump $35.6 million into the county’s economy and support 326 direct and indirect construction-related jobs.
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