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For most folks, the problem is not enough shopping. We’re not talking luxuries, just basics. One grocery, no shoe store, no toy store, no stand-alone pharmacy, limited availabilities of stuff.
It is time we think outside the box – be it a Big Box, or the bigger box that our dependency on the lab has put us in. Nor do we want only those science and tech businesses that pay no less than $60,000/year, as proposed by Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.
We need to build an actual economy with a diverse productive base. We will have to do it from scratch, which means entrepreneurial startups that will take a while to grow but which will become the economic base of our future five to 10 years out. Those entrepreneurs will be taking enormous risks
The odds may be even worse here, because this is a small town, in a small county on an isolated plateau, in a state most folks are confused about.
Who will take those kinds of risks? Certainly not an already established business in a more favorable locale. We will have to rely on people who already have an affinity for Los Alamos; people who already want to live here if they can just figure out how to make a living here. Those would be people who have visited here as tourists and people who grew up here. We need to bring them home.
To do this we will have to establish a county office of economics and enterprise, which will actively recruit and provide support for the seeds we seek to plant. For the same $75 million we spent on airport basin, how many start-up businesses could have been funded?
And we will have to restore the original Municipal Building. It was one of the last and most symbolic vestiges of the town that people remember fondly, and the fondness people have for Los Alamos is about the only thing we have to work with.
Granted, if you rebuild it they still may not come. But if you don’t rebuild they will certainly stay away. And it will have to be on its original site – to use any other site is to retire that site from productive use, which we can hardly afford to do.
The lab can no longer support Los Alamos on its own. It is time we set aside the schemes and pipedreams. It is time we set aside the desires of the moment, learn the value of delayed gratification, roll up our sleeves, adjust our attitudes, and get at the work that should have been ongoing for the past 40 years. It is time we begin to pull our own weight and pay our own freight.