ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) is showing its continued dedication to training students interested in different trades with a new state-of-the-art facility on its main campus. On Thursday, June 29th, the community college broke ground at the training site.

Rita Johnson is a local electrician who got her start in the trade industry at CNM 10 years ago. She shared, “It’s been good for my life. It’s changed my life. I’m at the top of my career. I make excellent money. As a single mom getting into the trades changed my kids’ life. It made it possible to be a single mom.” 

On Thursday, she was back on the college’s campus, but this time for work. “I was actually here breaking ground on the site as an electrician helping to do the asbestos abatement and move the power around before they actually did the breaking ground,” Johnson explained. 

The $58.7 million skilled trades facility will replace three of the school’s oldest buildings from the 70s. The 60,000-square-foot facility will house six to ten programs like welding, HVAC, plumbing, and carpentry. 

Tracy Hartzler is CNM’s President. At the groundbreaking, she said, “We are currently on a site that is over 13 acres; the skills trade facility will take up about five of those acres. And then we have room to grow our skills trades program, parking, and some other services that we’ll need for the campus.” 

Hartzler says this new facility is important because it shows CNM’s effort. She went on to say, “As well all know, there’s a workforce shortage around skill trades. We all know that we have construction needs; we have needs on how to repair our homes and our businesses and our commercial interests.” 

Johnson is hopeful this will help encourage New Mexico’s younger generation to join the trade industry. “I think it’s very important we need to let kids know that this is an option. We need to let girls know these are options. It’s all important. We need plumbers. We need welders. We need it all,” she said.

CNM’s skilled trades facility is expected to be completed in early 2025. Funding for the facility comes from voter-approved bonds, as well as funding from the state general fund. CNM will be seeking voter approval of $3 million in additional funding through a CNM bond election in November in order to cover increased project costs due to inflation.