• Business Spotlight: Photography studio a picture of success

    In 2004, local business owner Tara Key had just moved to Los Alamos. After attending a certification program on the University of New Mexico campus, she felt comfortable enough within the community that she decided to fund Key Photography, a studio which took her passion for photography one step up, and challenged her to acquire sharp business skills.

    “You basically have to run your business in this town by word of mouth,” the young entrepreneur said, who spent two years on building her brand and making her name recognizable within the community.

    When she started exploring the idea of opening a business, in 2006, she was lucky enough to find “one of the most perfect spots” very quickly.

    At first, she converted her garage into a studio, but in 2009, after looking for a new studio home for about a year, she heard about a quilt business closing and contacted the landlord quickly.

  • US employers add 162K jobs; yet rate falls to 7.4 pct.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added 162,000 jobs in July, a modest increase and the fewest since March. Still, the unemployment rate fell to a 4½-year low of 7.4 percent.

    Unemployment declined from 7.6 percent in June because some Americans found jobs, while others stopped looking and were no longer counted as unemployed.

    Friday's report from the Commerce Department pointed to a less-than-robust job market. It suggested that the economy's subpar growth and modest consumer spending are making many businesses cautious about hiring.

    The government said employers added a combined 26,000 fewer jobs in May and June than it previously estimated. Americans worked fewer hours in July, and their average pay dipped. And many of the jobs employers added last month were for lower-paying work at stores, bars and restaurants.

    For the year, job growth has remained steady. The economy has added an average 200,000 jobs a month since January, though the pace has slowed in the past three months to 175,000.

    Friday's jobs report "reveals a mixed labor market picture of continued improvement, but at a still frustratingly slow pace," said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.

  • Tax-free holiday starts Friday

     Gov. Susana Martinez this week urged New Mexicans to take advantage of the upcoming Back-To-School Tax Free Holiday this weekend.
    Martinez says parents, teachers, and students can purchase school supplies, clothing, computers, and other back-to- school items, without paying gross receipts tax. The Ninth Annual Tax Free Holiday starts 12:01 a.m. Friday and ends midnight Sunday.
    “The beginning of the school year can be an expensive time for parents, teachers and students,” said Martinez. “In these challenging economic times, this weekend will provide much-needed relief for New Mexicans as our children return to school.
    “Most importantly, it will give them the opportunity to get the supplies they need for a successful school year at a lower cost than usual.”
    During the tax free holiday, the state will not collect gross receipts taxes on dozens of back-to-school items. New Mexicans are expected to save up to $4 million on their purchases.
    “This is a win-win situation for both our residents and businesses,”
    Martinez said.
    Hundreds of items purchased this weekend will not be taxed, but there are also certain limitations. Some of the tax free items include:
    • Articles of clothing, footwear, and accessories (less than $100)

  • Chamber business breakfast

    Los Alamos Cooperative Market General Manager Steve Watts and Bradbury Science Museum Director Linda Deck joined other business people to discuss the Mainstreet survey on Thursday morning at UNM-LA.

  • CenturyLink reaches deal with union

    DENVER (AP) — CenturyLink and its largest union have announced a deal that could avoid a strike of 11,000 workers in 13 mostly western states, which threatened to disrupt phone and Internet service for millions of consumers.

    The proposed agreement reached Tuesday night offers lump-sum increases and wage increases. It also provides new limitations on CenturyLink's ability to transfer jobs to offshore call centers.

    Workers had previously authorized a strike.

    "We're pleased to get an agreement after nearly a year of bargaining," said Al Kogler, spokesman for the Communications Workers of America.

    "CenturyLink and the CWA are pleased that we have come to an agreement that provides our employees fair and equitable benefits and will better enable us to deliver on our mutual commitment to serve our customers," said Glen Post, CenturyLink CEO, in a statement.

    The proposed agreement provides new limitations on CenturyLink's ability to contract out and move call center work outside its service area, and includes a commitment to return jobs that have been outsourced and offshored, the Denver Post reported Wednesday.

  • Survey: What LA wants

    It has been at least 10 years since the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC) last conducted a survey about what Los Alamos residents want in retail and dining options.

    So Dave Fox, owner of CB Fox Department Store, suggested it was time for an update.

    “The amount of chatter about the state of the local stores, even without regard to Smith’s coming, had reached enough of a pitch that I said, ‘why don’t we do a survey and find out what people want that some of the remaining stores can sell?’, which is a natural thing to think if you’re a retailer and living with that all the time, as we are,” Fox said. “So we suggested that it might be timely to do a survey and find out what’s wanted that can’t be had.”

    The LACDC ran with the idea, conducting an extensive online survey during the month of April.

    “LACDC decided to take on the mission and just really find out what Los Alamos wants in terms of dining and shopping options, and comparing that to what we have here and what they would like to see,” said Katie Stavert, business advisor for Los Alamos Business Assistance Services.

  • A small business star to be born this Super Bowl

    NEW YORK (AP) — A small business star will be born during a commercial break in Super Bowl XLVIII.

    A company yet to be selected will have its own 30-second ad during the game, giving it the kind of exposure usually reserved for mega-brands like Budweiser and Chevrolet. The spot will be the culmination of a competition sponsored by software maker Intuit Inc., which has never run a Super Bowl commercial of its own, but is paying for one small business to be in the spotlight during the third quarter of the Big Game.

    "This is the sort of thing that small businesses dream about," says Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "It's impossible to match the attention you get from being in the Super Bowl."

    There's also some risk. Small businesses often don't have the capacity to handle the kind of exposure that the winner is bound to get. The company will need to be prepared to handle the sudden surge in business it might get from the ad. Intuit, which makes software for small businesses says that ability will be one of the criteria companies must meet to make it to the final stages of the competition.

  • Business Spotlight: Leaving the past behind

    Local business owner, Tracy Maddox, has put recent troubles behind her as she prepares for her new endeavor as owner of the Hilltop Spa.

    Maddox opened Southwest Office Solutions in Los Alamos six years ago, after years of working as an executive with the Xerox Corporation. She was on the corporate fast-track with the company; however, she simply wanted to own her own business — a place that customers, employees and the community could be proud of. She used her expertise in the field to create a successful, community-oriented office solutions company.

    Maddox built SOS upon a sense of family and a deep dedication to customer service and employee satisfaction. She says that she has always been inspired by helping people find solutions; something that continues to be a core principal in her daily business practices.

    Maddox will now be helping customers find solutions related to their well-being, in addition to the office environment as she applies the same principles to her newly acquired business, the Hilltop Spa. Minor renovations are currently underway, but Maddox said she was fortunate to have acquired such a well-established business.

  • Defying the formula

    Convincing outside businesses, especially regional and national chains, that Los Alamos is a worthwhile investment is no easy task, since the county does not fit neatly into the formulas companies typically use to project the success of a new enterprise.

    Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation Executive Director Scott Randall took up that challenge recently at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECON convention. It was the second year Los Alamos had a presence at the convention, and the efforts may be starting to pay off.

    “The real motive was to get our name and our demographics and information about the community in front of people. It’s not even so much doing deals as it is establishing those relationships,” Randall said. “Because it was relatively new for this community, I felt that the best we could hope for was to get people to realize that we were on the map and that we had a lot to offer.”

    Randall, who has attended the convention for 16 years, began his preparations in advance in order to gain some traction among the 40,000 attendees.

  • Facebook soars after 2Q results beat estimates

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook's stock is flying high after the world's biggest social network posted higher revenue from mobile ads and delivered a healthy second-quarter profit that reversed a loss a year earlier.

    The results, which come in the heels of weaker-than-expected results from online search leader Google Inc., signal that Facebook's aggressive push into the mobile advertising market continues to pay off. The company began showing mobile advertisements for the first time last spring. On Wednesday, Facebook said mobile ads accounted for 41 percent of its total advertising revenue.

    The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company's stock jumped $4.93, or 18.6 percent, to $31.44 in extended trading after closing at $26.51. The stock priced at $38 when Facebook went public in May 2012 and hasn't hit that since.

    "I'm completely surprised," said Gartner analyst Brian Blau, summing up the sentiments of many investors who've watched Facebook's stock price stagnate over the past year due in large part to concerns about its mobile prospects.