ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city of Albuquerque and its partners are trying to sell the federal government on a development in the heart of downtown that they hope will become a hub for the emerging space industry. They’re hoping to get a slice of a billion dollars that’s up for grabs as part of the federal government’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

Out of more than 500 applicants for the challenge, the coalition, which includes the city and CNM, is among 60 finalists eligible for $25-100 million in grant money. “This is a great opportunity for New Mexico,” said Lawrence Rael, Chief Operations Officer for the city of Albuquerque.

The coalition is proposing six projects it said would make Albuqeurque and New Mexico the heart of space innovation. “The national perspective, what we find is there’s a little too much concentration perhaps on the coasts and highly urban areas when it comes to investments in space,” said coalition representatives in a presentation for the challenge. “In New Mexico, you have amazing aerospace heritage and new space alignment from local to state government.”

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The biggest project proposal would be a $75 million Space Valley Center in downtown Albuquerque, built on the city-owned parking lot on 3rd Street and Roma. “A building that will create an opportunity for highly secure intelligence or collaboration to happen with companies working in this industry,” said Rael.

The three-story, 93,000 square foot building would have co-working areas, labs, and a specialized auditorium, all built to accommodate working on highly sensitive information. “It really positions the city to be a competitor and really be a leader in this industry that’s really the future of not only what’s happening in the domestic agenda of the country but also in the military agenda,” said Rael.

The coalition expects the Space Valley Center alone would bring thousands of dollars and a billion dollars over the next 10 years. Rael called it a shot in the arm like downtown has never seen.

“This is a very very different investment that we’ve ever seen but it’s one that looks to the future and helps create a very different vibe in downtown with now a major initiative like this,” he said.

Rael said the location would is also ideal since it is close to the Albuquerque Convention Center. The coalition has already received $500,000 for being a finalist. Ultimately, 30 or the 60 finalists will be awarded the grant money. Rael said they should know if they will get the money by this fall.

The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce Foundation is also among the sixty finalists. It says its proposal includes eight projects that would grow New Mexico into a leader in the creative technology industry.