The Las Cruces City Council discussed plans to spend $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds at the council’s Oct. 10 work session.
City Manager Ifo Pili’s office recommended the following funding for five new workforce development programs:
- A three-year transitional job training program that would be allotted $240,000. A four- to six-week job training program is proposed for residents who are at or below the poverty level, to include residents experiencing housing insecurity. The goal of this program is to retrain participants to re-enter the workforce. Doña Ana Community College (DACC) would be a partner in the project.
- A childcare provider microgrant program, with a budget of $150,000. The city Economic Development Department would manage the program and provide microgrants to help childcare providers negatively impacted due to or during COVID-19. The project would assist with income and staffing losses and increased costs that resulted from the pandemic.
- A childcare business accelerator program, with a budget of $150,000. It would partner the city with the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coalition, the Small Business Development Center and WESST. The program would provide funding to increase the number of childcare providers in the city. Participants would learn business practices, including starting a business, bookkeeping and accounting, marketing and branding.
- An apprenticeship program that also would offer pre-apprenticeship support, with a proposed budget of $300,000. City partners would include Southern New Mexico Independent Electrical Contractors (SNMIEC) /Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) Academic Career Experience ACE Program and New Mexico Workforce Connection. The program goal would be to expand SNMIEC’s apprenticeship program, including upskill training for licensed journeymen contractors. Funding also would support the establishment of a pre-apprenticeship program and transportation needs for LCPS participants.
- A manufacturing/advanced manufacturing training program, with a budget of $100,000. The city would partner with the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) and DACC to focus on assisting employers in upskilling their workforce with existing industry certifications surrounding automation and advance or additive manufacturing.
Additionally, $60,000 of ARPA funds would be reserved for additional programming and administrative costs.
The council is expected to vote on a formal resolution to spend the $1 million at its Nov. 6 regular meeting.
The city, as a recipient of federal ARPA funds, implemented a request for proposals for community and economic development initiatives. A city ARPA scoring committee recommended funding for 10 projects, totaling almost $9.595 million. However, one proposed project which awarded $1 million to the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico partnered with Bitwise Industries, will not be used because Bitwise Industries filed for bankruptcy June 1, 2023, and will not be coming to Las Cruces.