Chamber welcomes statewide visitors

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By Carol A. Clark

Hot tamales, fresh fruit and local leaders greeted chamber of commerce executives from across the state Wednesday during a reception at Fuller Lodge.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Regional Manager John M. Gonzales traveled from Dallas to attend the three-day event.

Gonzales works out of the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in Dallas and said the gathering allows him the opportunity to give members a legislative update at the federal level and to hear about the issues facing businesses.

“In a sense, I can report back to headquarters saying, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on in New Mexico’,” Gonzales said. “What really helps is you meet these folks who you’ve been interacting with by e-mail and it’s good to put a face with a name –  and hopefully they’ll take our call because they’ve met us.”

Executive Director Kevin Holsapple of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce greeted the visitors at Wednesday’s reception. “Many have never been here or for others, it’s been a long time since they’ve visited,” he said. “We want them to come away with a positive impression. These are great people for word of mouth in their communities.”

Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, serves on the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC) board of which the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce is a membership program.

“We would like these chamber executives to see Los Alamos,” Wallace said. “I think people all over this state have questions about the laboratory and I’m pleased that tomorrow they’re going to have lunch and tour the lab.”

Program Manager Jill Johnson from the Lovington Chamber is familiar with Los Alamos because she’s visited her sorority sister, Micky Alden Wright.

“Micky’s parents worked at the lab during the Manhattan Project and she grew up here,” Johnson said. “I find it really interesting the way they built Los Alamos on those lava fingers. It’s an interesting place, it’s not like a normal town with all the streets running in a grid.”

Executive Vice President Marianne Pratt of the New Mexico Chamber Executives organized the event with Holsapple.

Holsapple, who also leads the LACDC introduced a number of board members and staff. Georgia Strickfaden, historian and owner of Buffalo Tours, invited the group to visit the Historical Museum and take a tour by van that provides the history, archeology and geology of the area.

Director John Werenko invited the executives to visit the Art Center at Fuller Lodge.

Holsapple introduced Russ Gordon, who  puts on the town’s summer concert series, as a “community institution.”

“We plan to put on 24 free shows over 21 days, mostly national acts and mostly Americana, which is a kind of folk rock,” Gordon said.

Gordon lined up musician Pat Burns to play guitar during Wednesday’s reception. Burns attended Los Alamos Middle School and graduated from Los Alamos High School.

The visitors are staying at the Best Western Hilltop House Hotel and tonight they will dine at Central Avenue Grill.

Wednesday’s reception was sponsored by the LACDC, Spring Hill Press, a Missouri company that makes maps for chambers and real estate boards, and The Idea Group, a strategic solutions and marketing company in Santa Fe.

De Colores provided the food and catering.

For information, contact Chamber Member Services Coordinator Katy Korkos 661-4816.