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Business/Economy

  • Biodidact has a scientific mission

    Prisca Tiasse won $500 at the Los Alamos Venture Accelerator’s Elevator Pitch Competition earlier this year.
    After winning the “First-Timer” award, she has continued to raise funds for her business.
    Her business, Biodidact, offers hands-on workshops that teach biotechnology concepts.
    The day after Tiasse won the award, she showed how fun it is to get creative with science with her “Extract your Own DNA” workshop at this year’s ScienceFest. Judging by the dozens of kids and parents who swarmed her booth, Tiasse had one of the most popular exhibits at the festival.
    “I was overwhelmed and very surprised at how many people were interested in my DNA extraction booth. It was non-stop,” Tiasse said. Everyone who came to her ScienceFest booth got to make a necklace with tiny vials of their own DNA.
    The activity was so popular that she gave an encore event earlier this month at the Diamond Mix Co-Work Space in the Pueblo Complex. The DNA Extraction workshops were free events to help raise money for Tiasse’s Kickstarter campaign, which will raise money for pipettes, laboratory equipment and arts and crafts equipment for students.

    A community lab for everyone

  • Unquarked wineries a perfect grouping

    Three New Mexico wineries have combined efforts to become “Unquarked.”
    The winery serves vino from Black’s Smuggler winery, Anasazi Fields and Vivác winery.
    All three wineries have the collective attitude of bringing their wineries from smaller New Mexico communities to reach out to a larger audience and expand business.
    In fall 2013, The Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation called out to wineries across the state for interest in becoming part of joint tasting rooms.
    “These wineries are from smaller, remote locations,” said Jim Fish, owner of Anasazi Fields, which operates out of Placitas. “It is an opportunity to bring wine to a larger, untapped market.”
    The owner of Unquarked is Tony Black, CEO and president of Black’s Smuggler Winery in Bosque. He said since the soft opening on Nov. 24, business has been positive and the customer base has been substantial.
    “We already have regular customers,” said Veronica Black-Stepp, manager and Black’s sister. She moved from Albuquerque in November to help with the business venture.
    In addition to a large selection of wines, Unquarked serves food catered from local businesses such as Pajarito Brewpub and Manhattan Project.

  • Shopping has been sluggish for the season

    NEW YORK (AP) — Despite an early start, sales data provided to The Associated Press show that stores may once again have to rely on procrastinators to save the holiday shopping season.
    Sales rose 1.8 percent from Nov. 1 through Monday compared with the same period a year ago, according to payment technology company First Data Corp.
    The numbers are modest considering that the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects sales for the entire season — November and December — to rise 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion.
    The slow growth also comes at a time when retailers tried to do a number of things to jumpstart the season and encourage shoppers to spend. Some offered “holiday” discounts as early as Halloween instead of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. And more stores opened on Thanksgiving Day itself to offer people early enticements to spend.
    But the incentives seem to have backfired. Shoppers took advantage of the earlier sales and hours, but that had the effect of syphoning away sales from Black Friday, which is typically the biggest sales day of the year.

  • 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.