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Business/Economy

  • Officials: LA commercial development looking up

    They may not have signed on the dotted line yet, but many commercial enterprises are taking a closer look at Los Alamos.

    “There’s a lot of tire kicking, a lot of people looking —hotels, restaurants, retail,” said Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation Executive Director Scott Randall.

    “There are a lot of prospects. We ­—Economic Development, LACDC, the brokers — are seeing a lot of activity out there,” said Los Alamos Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher. “I really don’t know that there are any deals that have closed yet, but the good news is that there’s a lot of activity. I’ve estimated about 50,000 square feet.”
    Fisher admits he does not know why interest has surged, but he suspects the Trinity Site development is a key factor.

    “$28 million being spent by Kroger Corporation for the Trinity Center is a huge catalyst. That’s a huge commercial investment: probably one of the largest commercial investments in decades in Los Alamos. And that attracts attention,” Fisher said.

  • Los Alamos County lowest uninsured rate in NM

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Census Bureau reports that Los Alamos County has among the lowest uninsured rates in the nation.

    The federal agency estimates that 4.7 percent of the county's population under 65 lacked health insurance in 2011. Only Norfolk County in Massachusetts had a lower uninsured rate — 3.1 percent.

    The Census Bureau released a report last month on county-level insurance coverage.

    McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico had the highest uninsured rate — 31.8 percent — among the state's 33 counties.

    Statewide, more than a fifth of New Mexicans lacked health insurance.

    In New Mexico, as with all states, the uninsured rate is higher for adults than children.

    Nearly 29 percent of New Mexican ages 18 to 64 lack health insurance, but about 10 percent of children are uninsured.

  • Ruby K's cooks up ideal hangout spot

    Ruby Alexander’s first thought when opening up a café was how to give the community a place to gather and spend time together.

    Since the opening in 2005, Ruby K’s has done just that.

    “It has become a common staple in Los Alamos,” Alexander said. “It is a place where there is great food, great service and the perfect spot to hang out.”

    Located in downtown Los Alamos, its central location is ideal, Alexander said.

    Alexander has lived in Los Alamos for 28 years.

    With a menu consisting of bagels, sandwiches, desserts and the well-received smoothie, the plan is to branch out.
    Currently, Ruby K’s offers cupcakes, cake pops and mini pies, which according to Alexander, are flying off the shelves. Moreover, she wants to expand the business to offer more catering — luncheon-based items, such as appetizers, mini sandwich platters, fruit and veggie platters and other finger foods for office parties, gatherings and even weddings. Ruby K’s makes their sandwiches with homemade breads.

    Alexander said she wants to offer items for teens, which can allow them to get together with their friends after school.

  • Stylist offers added touch of 'glam'

    For a little bit of glitz and bling or to get a new look, Monica’s Accessories Boutique is available to make that happen.

    Monica’s is not just a typical hair salon. Owner Monica Duran incorporates a wide array of boutique clothing, as well as jewelry, handbags, cosmetics and hair products.

    The lifelong resident of Los Alamos has been in business at the current location for 17 years and three years ago she remodeled the shop and added the boutique to offer her clients something more.

    “I love doing what I do,” Duran said. “Hair comes first and the rest is for my clients while they are here.”

    Duran and Sylvia Salazar, a cosmetologist, have worked together for the last eight years.

    Although she says the location is “hidden” at 1460 Trinity Drive, Suite 9, Duran said she has no shortage of customers.

    “My clients know where I am and really support what is going on here,” she said. “I’ve been doing hair for lots of years and I have done very well.”

    The shop is a full service salon.

    Duran got the idea of adding the boutique from clients who would travel and buy things at boutiques in other parts of the country.

  • NM rate increase OK'd for Blue Cross Blue Shield

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's insurance regulator has approved a rate increase of at least 9 percent for about 26,000 customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    The Office of Superintendent of Insurance said Monday there will be increases of 9.2 percent or 10.4 percent starting in December for the company's policyholders.

    The regulatory agency attributed about 5 percent to 6 percent of the increase to rising medical costs and the remainder to fees imposed on insurers by a federal health care overhaul law.

    Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said 80 percent of the premiums collected by Blue Cross must be spent on medical expenses.

    Franchini encouraged New Mexicans who don't obtain health insurance through their employer to explore buying coverage through the state's health insurance exchange, will is to start accepting applications next month.

  • Doomsday Preppers Go Upscale With Luxury Bunkers

    A Southern California company is building luxury survivalist bunkers complete with wide-screen TVs, plumbing, and bunk-beds. They start at about $65,000 dollars and that doesn't include the cost of digging a big enough hole.

  • Zia Realty Group sees bright future at one-year anniversary

    James Chrobocinski, owner and broker at Zia Realty, says he is confident in the housing markets in Los Alamos and surrounding areas.

    He and his fellow brokers and agents will be celebrating a full year of doing business on Sept. 12 with food, drinks and live entertainment. The anniversary bash begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Zia Realty Group office, 1460 Trinity Drive, Suite 1.

    There will be a drawing for a $1,000 gift certificate good toward a home makeover, provided by Finishing Touch. The public is welcome to come sign up and stay to enjoy the festivities.

    Due to continued demand the deadline for the drawing has been exten`ed to Sept. 12. Anyone can sign up for the drawing at the anniversary celebration or by calling Zia Realty Group at 662-8899.

    The drawing will take place and the winner will be announced during the anniversary celebration.

    “It’s been an outstanding summer,” he said. “Projections were way higher than expected.”

    Chrobocinski grew up in Los Alamos and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he became a real estate broker for 27 years. Family obligations brought him back to Los Alamos last summer.

  • Americans working or looking for work hits 35-year low

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is producing jobs at a still-subpar pace — a trend the Federal Reserve will weigh before deciding this month whether to slow its bond buying and, if so, by how much.

    Employers added 169,000 jobs in August but many fewer in June and July than previously thought, the Labor Department said Friday. Combined, June, July and August amounted to the weakest three-month stretch of job growth in a year.

    The unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work reached its lowest point in 35 years.

    The jobs picture is sure to weigh heavily when the Fed meets Sept. 17-18 to discuss whether to scale back its $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bond purchases. Those purchases have helped keep home-loan and other borrowing rates ultra-low to try to encourage consumers and businesses to borrow and spend more.

    Friday's report "is a mixed bag that can be used to support an immediate tapering of the Fed's monthly asset purchases or delaying that move until later this year," said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

  • Studies take early look at health law's premiums

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law won't be cheap, but cost-conscious consumers hunting for lower premiums will have plenty of options, according to two independent private studies.

    A study released Thursday by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that government tax credits would lower the sticker price on a benchmark "silver" policy to a little over $190 a month for single people making about $29,000, regardless of their age.

    By pairing their tax credit with a stripped-down "bronze" policy, some younger consumers can bring their premiums down to the range of $100 to $140 a month, while older people can drive their monthly cost even lower — well below $100 — if they are willing to take a chance with higher deductibles and copays.

    A separate study released Wednesday from Avalere Health, a private data analysis firm, took a wide-angle view, averaging the sticker prices of policies at different coverage levels.

  • Nokia stock surges on Microsoft takeover

    HELSINKI (AP) — Microsoft Corp. is buying Nokia Corp.'s line-up of smartphones and a portfolio of patents and services in an attempt to strengthen its fight with Apple Inc. and Google Inc. to capture a slice of the lucrative mobile computing market.

    The 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion) deal announced late Monday marks a major step in the company's push to transform itself from a software maker focused on making operating systems and applications for desktop and laptop computers into a more versatile and nimble company that delivers services on any kind of Internet-connected gadget.

    "It's a bold step into the future — a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies," Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer told reporters at Nokia's headquarters in Finland Tuesday. "It's a signature event."

    Microsoft hopes to complete the deal early next year. If that timetable pans out, about 32,000 Nokia employees will transfer to Microsoft, which currently has about 99,000 workers.