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Business/Economy

  • N.M. Airlines service returns

    The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce announced today New Mexico Airlines has resumed service between Los Alamos and Albuquerque.

    The service has not been in operation for much of the month of December.

    Operation resumed this morning and flights are scheduled for this afternoon and Tuesday. Passengers can book travel at pacificwings.com or by calling the airline's toll-free number, 888-564-6119.

  • It’s Been Awhile...

    The advertised price of gas at the Smith’s gas station in Los Alamos was under $2 a gallon Saturday morning and the station was doing brisk business. According to the American Automobile Association, gas prices are averaging $2.43 a gallon around the country, down about $.80 from a year ago.

  • Popping the Quark

    UnQuarked had its grand opening Saturday at 145 Central Park Square. The business is open from 2-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday for private parties. Three wineries have joined together to expand outward to the community: Black’s Smuggler Winery, Anasazi Fields and Vivác. Black’s Smuggler Owner Tony Black and Anasazi Fields Owner Jim Fish cut the ribbon at Saturday’s grand opening event.

  • Trinity Capital says past losses weren’t recognized

    Los Alamos National Bank’s holding company, Trinity Capital Corporation, announced Friday it had filed its 2013 Annual Report.
    The filing, which was done with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, included financial results for both 2012 and 2013, as well as financial results for 2011, according to a press release.
    The report was filed with the SEC because, according to Trinity Capital, it had “not properly recognized certain losses and risks inherent in its loan portfolio on a timely basis.”
    Trinity Capital said it completed a review of its previous financial statements to reflect those losses.
    “We have worked diligently to correct our financial statements, as well as satisfy additional requirements from our regulators,” said Trinity’s CEO John Gulas. “Throughout 2014 we have addressed important internal issues, a process which has required considerable management attention, resulting in significant expenditures which will adversely impact 2014 results.”
    The failure to recognize those losses and risks, according to Trinity Capital, was caused by “the override of controls” of previous managers at LANB and “material weaknesses in internal control” of the bank’s financial reporting.

  • Economic development update

    An economic development update completed in November gives more details on the economic health of the county.
    • Housing remains a major obstacle to growth and attracting new residents. Housing, commercial and land prices have dropped but are still not competitive with Santa Fe.
    • Job growth is expected to continue, particularly in environmental work, service jobs and healthcare/elder care jobs. Affordable housing is needed to convert those workers to residents.
    • The update lists some promising economic trends in 2013, including record enrollment and completions at UNM-LA and growing airline passenger counts (600-700/month). LANL assigned a $20 million local environmental contract and announced four new projects starting in 2015-17. Two of those projects are environmental, making the economic impact uncertain.
    • Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) revenue has been more productive in 2014 than in 2013.
    • The new Smith’s Marketplace created approximately 200 new jobs with $6-8 million in new wages. Annual sales are up from $35-45 million to a projected $65-90 million.
    • LANL is projecting $250 million or more in growth for 2015.

  • Hotel developers shying away from Los Alamos

    The development of a full-service hotel with meeting space in the downtown area remains a high priority for economic development in Los Alamos County.
    Although the county is willing to contribute Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds to such a project, other factors are causing hotel developers to step back.
    Site options remain the major stumbling block, with only two suitable options in the downtown area.
    “The cost of demolition and reconstruction on the Hilltop House site is prohibitive for such a small site. It’s only 1.8 acres,” said Los Alamos County Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher. “The only other plausible site is the Los Alamos Inn property, and that is quite expensive.”
    “The land economics in downtown Los Alamos doesn’t yet match up with market demand except in a few cases, such as high quality office space.”
    Los Alamos National Bank owns the Hilltop House property. According to LANB President Steve Wells, there has been quite a bit of interest in the property, some from investors who want to continue operating a hotel on the site and from others who would use it for other purposes.

  • Second act of Black Friday in full swing

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stores are welcoming a second wave of shoppers in what has become a two-day kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
    The big question: How much the Thanksgiving shopping will hurt Black Friday, which is relinquishing its status as the frenzied start of the holiday shopping season?
    The crowds were thin early Friday morning in parts of the country, but traffic is expected to pick up throughout the day.
    One positive sign: Toys R Us and Target executives told The Associated Press shoppers seem to be buying more than just the doorbusters and filling their carts with other items not on sale. That seems to show that lower gas prices and an improving job picture are making shoppers more confident about opening their wallets.
    Bridget McNabb of Kansas City, Kansas, stopped at a mostly empty suburban Target around 5:30 a.m. Friday after a solid day of holiday cooking. “I started the dishwasher and came in,” she said.
    Her goal was a coffee pot for her niece. But first, the 55-year-old — who said she was “old enough to know better” than to be out so early — stopped at the electronics department.
    She was only momentarily disappointed after a store worker told her the $119 TV her husband wanted had sold out the night before.

  • Business Spotlight: Dunbar spins magic with stained glass windows

    There has been long admiration of stained glass windows in churches, businesses and even private residences. Spin Dunbar is the owner of Dunbar Stained Glass and has been commissioned stained glass structures for private homes, public buildings and churches since 1972. He has resided in the Santa Fe area since the mid-1980s.
    His work has been on view from coast to coast and many places in northern New Mexico, including work in Fuller Lodge, the Masonic Lodge in Santa Fe, Southern Methodist University in Taos, Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz, Masonic Lodge of Holy Faith in Galisteo and the home of “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin in Santa Fe.
    He has also did restoration for several churches, such as Church of the Holy Faith in Santa Fe, Señora Nuestra in Galisteo made some windows for the St. Francis Basilica Cathedral.
    He works with architects, homeowners and church committees to achieve designs that work best with their needs, budgets and environment. He works with clients to create one-of-a-kind designs.
    All of the work is structurally designed to hold the weight of the glass over time without any distortion, which is expected to last many decades.

  • Smith's, union reach accord

    The Kroger Co. Smith’s Division announced on Friday that it had reached an agreement with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1564, which represents Smith’s workers throughout New Mexico.
    According to UFCW Local 1564 President Greg Frazier, 86 percent of Smith’s associates across the state ratified the four-year contract.
    “The members and I feel that we got something that was fair,” Frazier said.
    “We’d always like something more, of course, but that’s negotiations.”
    According to Frazier, the key issues resolved to the union’s satisfactions were wages, insurance and some improvements regarding vacation and holiday pay for workers hired after 2005.
    Frazier would not go into specifics, but he did answer questions regarding some of the main points of contention during negotiations.
    “Our biggest issue, besides insurance, was making improvements for those employees hired after ’05,” Frazier said.
    The union had previously made concessions regarding pay and benefits for workers hired after 2005 (73 percent of Smith’s workforce) in order to help Smith’s compete with Walmart.

  • Smith’s, union come to terms

    The Kroger Co. Smith’s Division associates working at stores in New Mexico have ratified a new labor agreement with UFCW Local 1564, according to a Smith’s press release.
    “We are pleased to reach an agreement that is good for our associates. This agreement provides wage increases, affordable health care and invests in our associates’ pension fund to support their retirement,” said Jay Cummins, Smith’s president. “I want to thank our associates for supporting the agreements and for the excellent service they provide to our customers every day.”
    The contracts cover 2,200 associates working in 25 stores in New Mexico including the new Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos.
    Kroger employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,638 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states.