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Reception provides voice for business communit

By Carol A. Clark

A Los Alamos contingent mingled with state lawmakers and the who’s who in New Mexico business during Monday’s annual Legislative Reception at the Santa Fe Convention Center.

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Business people and decision makers from across the state attended what Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Member Services Coordinator Katy Korkos described as one of the most important and well attended networking events of the year.

“The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the New Mexico Chambers of Commerce hosts the reception. It is an exceptional networking opportunity to meet business people from around the state,” Korkos said. “The governor, lieutenant governor and state legislators are invited to attend each year and this gives us an opportunity to rub elbows with them and lobby for local interests.”

Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties attended the reception. She serves on the Legislative Finance Committee and Korkos said she expressed concern over the state’s budget crisis.

“Rep. Wallace is very worried with how the budget is going to come out in the legislative session currently underway. She sees some serious cuts coming,” Korkos said.

A variety of businesses set up booths Monday. One company out of Artesia converts algae into fuel and has a contract with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Korkos said.

Executive Director Kevin Holsapple of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Center joined Korkos and local chamber community project coordinators Claire Roybal and Suzette Fox at the event.

Each year on the day following the reception, the New Mexico Chambers of Commerce Executives Association meets because of the large number of business people gathered in the state capitol.

The association looks at current legislation affecting small business and decides which to lobby. Holsapple is a member of the executives association and participated in Tuesday’s meeting.

“There’s an initiative on legislation to remove a prohibition that has existed for some time that would allow better arrangements for small businesses to access more cost effective health insurance plans,” he said. “I don’t know if people realize the burden this places on small businesses but as an example, last year the LACDC incurred a 20 percent increase in health insurance costs. We just received a quote last week for this year and there’s another 20 percent increase being proposed.”

Holsapple explained that the key is as legislators wrestle with the budget deficit that they don’t just through taxes on businesses make it that New Mexico is not competitive for small business.

The Los Alamos Chamber has joined together with other chambers, he said, to try to ensure legislators are aware of any collateral damage their actions might have on small businesses.