LOS LUNAS — In less than a week, The University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus will begin its next chapter as the Workforce Training Center in the village of Los Lunas opens for the spring semester next Tuesday.
The 19,000 square-foot building is a long-term goal come to life for the branch campus.
The academic offerings at the center will focus on classes and training geared for manufacturing and industry, as well as “soft” skills that local business owners say are needed in the workforce.
“We did a survey a couple years ago and interestingly enough, one of the major things business people asked for was soft skills — communications skills, the ability to work in a team — that is critical,” said Alice Letteney, UNM-Valencia’s chancellor.
The center houses traditional computer labs, classrooms that can be easily configured for specialty classes, a vocational learning lab — a large space that will allow different equipment, such as a large plastic injection mold, be brought in for hands-on training — library and tutoring space, as well as the new home to the Valencia County Small Business Development Center.
The SBDC will maintain its offices at the UNM-Valencia Campus in Tomé, as well as continuing to meet with business owners and business start ups in Belen and Socorro as well.
The new training center is at 1020 Huning Ranch Road, in Los Lunas.
From Main Street, turn south on Huning Ranch Loop SW at the stop light. Continue driving south, crossing Sundance and Lonestar streets. The Workforce Training Center is on the right, across the street from La Vida Felicidad.
Fiber optics will fully connect the new campus with the existing one in Tomé.
“We knew Los Lunas was going to (be an area) of considerable development, and we began to feel very strongly with all the business and industry coming into that area, it would be the perfect location,” said Letteney.
The building’s final price tag was nearly $8.3 million, which was slightly above the anticipated cost. The campus has been saving for the construction costs since 2006 and incurred no debt to complete the project.
“We were able to hold down the costs a little better than other projects because as we were going through the design process, they kind of saw what was happening, so they bought the lumber package and RAKS held it for us,” said Rick Goshorn, director of business operations for UNM-Valencia.
“For the most part, it’s really what the industrial businesses in the area need. Soft skills will be a large component,” he said. “We will also have facilities to offer to anyone needing to do training. Say a company is introducing a new software package or even a piece of equipment. Instead of figuring out how to send 30 people to Austin to get this training, they can bring in the trainer and have the facilities and space they need.”
UNM-Valencia Dean of Instruction Dr. Laura Musselwhite said there are also plans to use the center for community events, such a speaker series, and other offerings that will bring community members to the new facility.
Because the new center is near residential areas, Goshorn said the building is only one story.
“We met with citizens and the village council and views are very important to people who live around there,” Goshorn said.
The center sits on nine acres donated to the university by the Huning Ltd. Partnership, Letteney said, with an option to receive an additional nine acres immediately to the north in the next five years.
“This building uses about 45 percent of the original nine acres,” Goshorn said.
Classes offered at the WTC this spring include criminal investigation, Spanish I, technology foundations, computer programming fundamentals and professional and technical communication.
For the full spring course schedule, visit valencia.unm.edu/academics/class-schedule.html.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.