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EDC takes on new role by renovating building for tenant

Storage containers sit by Building 60, or 520 E. Challenger St., at the Roswell International Air Center. Inspections are occurring as part of the renovation and upgrade efforts that will prepare the building for its new tenant, Red Mountain Arsenal LLC. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. is taking on a unique role on behalf of a business new to Roswell — tenant build-out project manager.

The economic group worked with the owners of a start-up, Red Mountain Arsenal LLC, as it made its decision this fall to locate in Roswell and lease Building 60 at the Roswell International Air Center.

Now, with approval of the Roswell City Council given Sept. 13, members of the EDC are acting as project managers in charge of overseeing renovations, repairs and safety upgrades to the former Air Force munitions building that has been used for airplane furnishings storage since 2010.

The arrangement is a first for Roswell, according to EDC and city officials.

“The goal is to get (business owner) Pete Charnisky in there as quickly as possible,” said Bud Kunkel, chair of the EDC board of directors and the owner of an appraisal firm. “If you go through all of the government stuff that you have to go through all the time, that could be a six-month project. … If he’s not producing ammunition, he’s losing money.”

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Scott Stark, director of the Roswell International Air Center, agreed that the work could be completed more quickly acting through the EDC, which is funded by the city, the county, business memberships and project grants.

“EDC works under different rules than the city,” Stark said. “For example, they are not bound by state procurement rules. The arrangement has potential to streamline the process of certain economic development projects, getting a new business established in our community quicker, thus creating jobs sooner.”

Charnisky is now living in Roswell with his wife after relocating here from Arizona. A Navy veteran, he has about 20 years of experience in the ammunition and propellant device manufacturing industries. His partners in Red Mountain, a small-weapons ammunition manufacturer, is Alfred Alvarado Jr. of Alexandria, Virginia.

“Right now the focus of the company is going to be on government and military sales, domestic and foreign,” he said. “There may be a commercial aspect to it for commercial sales around the U.S, but that is not our primary market.”

He said that the federal firearm license required for the business is being reviewed now and that he is in the process of acquiring and shipping in needed equipment, with the intent of opening the business in the first part of 2019.

Charnisky said he and his partner chose the Roswell location mainly because of Building 60.

“I chose Roswell primarily because it had facilities that met the minimum requirements for government regulations for setting up a business such as this,” he said. “Finding a building that meets the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) regulations and international building codes and international safety codes is not an easy thing.”

Kunkel is working with fellow Roswell-Chaves Economic Development Corp. members Tres Featherstone of Featherstone Development Corp. and Steve Dodson of Dodson Wholesale Lumber Co. Inc. in managing the $300,000 budget and the build-out project. Smith Engineering and Holloway Construction will work on building. Currently inspectors are determining what is needed to meet building and safety codes and business requirements, Kunkel said.

He added that the city’s investment, which might exceed $300,000 if needed and if all parties agree, will pay off in terms of Red Mountain’s private investment in the business, increased rents and job creation.

Red Mountain is leasing Building 60 for $2,923 a month for the first year of the five-year lease, which can be renewed for four more five-year terms for a total of 25 years. The rent, according to John Mulcahy, president of the Economic Development Corp., is four times what the city was receiving for the building when it was used for storage.

As far as employment, Charnisky said that initial employment likely will be three or four people, with growth expected as the business establishes itself.

“I’m looking at 20 employees by the end of the five-year period,” he said.

Kunkel said that EDC members are willing to take on the work to help a new business succeed, with the outcome of this project likely to decide whether EDC will take on similar roles in future.

“This type of project is a very good example of what the business community can do,” he said. “Everybody is going to work to make this as successful as we can. Our goal is, let’s create jobs, let’s get more people to work.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.