Los Alamos could thrive with manufacturing training institute

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On June 11, the Wall Street Journal did a major section, “A Revolution in the Making” on the titanic changes coming in manufacturing. This special insert detailed how various processes and technologies were coming together, along with seminal cost advantages, to swing the multi-decade downturn in United States manufacturing prowess to our favor. But one article in particular got my attention.
“Help Wanted. A lot of It,” described the incredible number of trained workers that will be required to bring on this new epoch. While I’m not going to impress you with the statistics, I am going to say this…
Given the increasing greying of Los Alamos County (median age over 50 by 2020), the glacial-like pace of a kowtowing county council and its slavish obsession with employing everybody (Four percent plus of the population, two to three times the national average), they seem oblivious to our inherent natural advantages. It really might be about time to “think this one outside the box.”
Albuquerque economic development expert, Mark Lautman, openly predicts places in the Southwest like ours, and others even bigger, are headed for the economic dustbin if we cannot forcefully and creatively move on to new paths of development. So, are we doomed as an increasingly geriatric enclave for pampered ex-labbies who stay, to whine and complain, while vetoing anything new and progressive?
Do I really need to recall the evidence here, huh?
One thing I believe is this pending demographic-based, cultural pathology will definitely impair the goose that lays those golden eggs. Our single goose is quite concerned. We need to breed more, younger geese.
UNM-LA would make an excellent location for such an advanced manufacturing training facility. But why is it we feel compelled (or guilty for our prosperity?), that we duplicate courses and curricula here that could just as easily be sent down to NNMC? Besides this, standard entry college instruction is rapidly migrating to the Internet.
On the potential of advanced manufacturing training in Los Alamos: would not an “inherent natural advantage” be all those retired, or even active, lab staffers qualified to use and train on the kinds of equipment and technology mentioned in the Wall Street Journal articles? You bet. Just get started with one specialty; the world will beat a path to our door.
And while little Los Alamos proper will never have the kind of land available for big manufacturing facilities, especially maintaining sacred cows like the golf course and airport, we would become a unique source of trained personnel for Northern New Mexico, helping economic recruitment to the entire region.
In terms of pure Christian charity, isn’t this a better way to “teach a man to fish?” It sure helps as much as free frozen turkeys on Christmas Eve, and low-wage, low value-added, set-aside contracts.
As for the LAC council, I’m taking Missouri citizenship on their lethargic governance. Tomorrow’s world demands three distinct governmental attributes: speed, transparency and rapid accountability. In fact, there are many of us who’d like to see specific council districts, instead of the slow, diffused, at-large polyglot we have now.
Maybe that’s a goodie for a general referendum under our new charter changes; put me down for $500.

William T. Sellers is the vice president of Los Alamos Entrepreneurs Network and can best be reached, via e-mail, at readbill19@usa.net.