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Business/Economy

  • SPIN METER: In budget fight, sky is falling again

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and his officials are doing their best to drum up public concern over the shock wave of spending cuts that could strike the government in just days. So it's a good time to be alert for sky-is-falling hype.

    Over the last week or so, administration officials have come forward with a grim compendium of jobs to be lost, services to be denied or delayed, military defenses to be let down and important operations to be disrupted. Obama's new chief of staff, Denis McDonough, spoke of a "devastating list of horribles."

    For most Americans, though, it's far from certain they will have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day if the budget-shredder known as the sequester comes to pass. Maybe they will, if the impasse drags on for months.

    For now, there's a whiff of the familiar in all the foreboding, harking back to the mid-1990s partial government shutdown, when officials said old people would go hungry, illegal immigrants would have the run of the of the land and veterans would go without drugs. It didn't happen.

  • Enloe retires, leaves lasting legacy

    The year was 1971.

    And Bill Enloe thought for sure he was going to get drafted.

    With the Vietnam War in full swing, he had just graduated from Eastern New Mexico University and immediately after getting his degree, he was handed a 1-A draft designation.

    He walked into the Los Alamos National Bank to close his accounts, resigned to his fate.

    “I actually knew the vice president of the bank and I was closing out my accounts,” said Enloe, who was the captain of the 1966 Los Alamos High School football team that won the state championship.

    “I mentioned what was going on and she said, ‘Why don’t you work here until you are actually drafted?’ I don’t know if it was fate or bad luck. They put a moratorium on the draft a few months later.”

    And the rest, they say is history.

    In August 1971, the bank was eight-years-old with one branch office, $15 million in assets and 12 employees. Today, LANB has six branch offices, $1.6 billion in assets and 350 employees, and it has also become the largest community bank in New Mexico.

    On Feb. 1, Enloe, 64, the chief executive officer of LANB, announced his retirement after 42 years at the bank.
    Enloe worked his way up the LANB ladder and became president in 1979.

  • LANB CEO retires

    William Enloe, who has served as chief executive officer of Trinity Capital Corp. and Los Alamos National Bank since 1979, announced his retirement effective last Friday in a letter to the bank’s board of directors.

    In his letter, Enloe, who has been with the bank since 1971, said that he has watched the bank grow from a small community bank with just more than $11 million in assets to a bank with more than $1 billion in assets.

    “I believe I leave as my legacy an institution that cares about its employees, its customers and the communities it serves and I believe that the board of directors, Steve Wells and the rest of the management team will continue to operate the bank in the same situation,” he wrote.

    Enloe said his plans for the future are uncertain at the time but he intends to take some time off to rest and relax.

    “I expect that I will find new challenges,” he wrote. “I have enjoyed the many years that we have worked together to make the Los Alamos National Bank what it is today.”

    Wells said he has worked with Enloe for 28 years.

  • Worried Drivers Watch As Gas Prices Surge

    The Energy Department rays U.S. drivers spent 4 percent of their pre-tax income on gasoline last year, the second highest percentage in thirty years.

  • Aviation industry might take off with tax relief

    Pilots in New Mexico may have a fantastic views to look at when they are airborne and no doubt, the arid climate is a plus when it comes to preserving a plane’s condition. However, that’s just about all most pilots — and anyone else connected to the aviation industry in New Mexico — believes it has going for them.

    According to some, the tax structure really comes down hard on a type of business that has yet to blossom in the state. Many of those in the aviation business find the state’s seven percent gross receipts tax on aviation supplies and services oppressive, especially when it comes to maintenance.

    When the hail storm hit Los Alamos last October, all of the pilots affected had to ship their damaged planes out of state to a facility in Colorado because there is no aviation repair facility in New Mexico equipped to handle it — or at least one that would repair the hail damage for the right price, which is typically dictated by what an insurance company is willing to pay.

    According to Los Alamos Airport Manager Peter Soderquist, 18 airplanes were damaged in the storm and many of those were considered a total loss. To his knowledge, not one of the aircraft was repaired in-state.

  • Martinez: NM high school grad rate up seven points

    RIO RANCHO (AP) — New Mexico’s four-year high school graduation rate jumped to 70 percent just a year after federal data showed the state’s 63 percent rate was one of the worst in the nation, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Thursday.

    Speaking in front of students from Rio Rancho High School, Martinez called the seven-point spike a “mile marker” and said the improvement in just a year’s time was evidence that New Mexico schools could provide the needed services to help students graduate.

    “While we have a long way to go ... I do believe the schools all across our state have taken on the challenge of keeping our young people in high school,” Martinez said. “And I think our students are responding well to the high expectations.”

    Martinez said the state’s “A through F” grading system paired with preventative measures helped schools improve student achievement.

    In addition to an overall graduation rate spike, state officials reported that graduate rates also increased for Latino and American Indian students and students with disabilities. For example, Latino students had a graduation rate of 68 percent, an eight point jump from 2011. Meanwhile, Native American students saw a graduation rate of 65 percent and a nine point increase.

  • Smith's exec meets local retailers on development

    In the lead-up to council’s approval of the Trinity Site contract, one hotly debated issue was whether having a Smith’s Marketplace as the anchor store would prove to be a benefit for local retailers or drive them out of business.

    Those fears intensified when the North American Development Group backed out and Smith’s/Kroger assumed the contract.

    As Smith’s/Kroger officials prepare to present design plans for county approval, it is working to alleviate those fears. To that end, Vice President of Public Affairs Marsha Gilford met last Wednesday with those who could be most impacted by the development.

    “Our approach, and our true philosophy, is that there is so much business that’s leaking out to Santa Fe and Albuquerque that this store will keep a lot of that business and retail shopping activity in Los Alamos. And if we can do that, then all the smaller businesses are going to thrive as well,” Gilford said.

    “We don’t expect that we’re going to have everything that people need and want. We think we’ll have a great selection and we intend to make this just an exciting store for the Los Alamos customers. We have a lot committed to this store and want it to be fabulous.

  • Will smart machines create a world without work?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Last in a three-part series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — They seem right out of a Hollywood fantasy, and they are: Cars that drive themselves have appeared in movies like "I, Robot" and the television show "Knight Rider."

    Now, three years after Google invented one, automated cars could be on their way to a freeway near you. In the U.S., California and other states are rewriting the rules of the road to make way for driverless cars. Just one problem: What happens to the millions of people who make a living driving cars and trucks — jobs that always have seemed sheltered from the onslaught of technology?

    "All those jobs are going to disappear in the next 25 years," predicts Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston. "Driving by people will look quaint; it will look like a horse and buggy."

  • Practically human: Can smart machines do your job?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Second in a three-part series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Art Liscano knows he's an endangered species in the job market: He's a meter reader in Fresno, Calif. For 26 years, he's driven from house to house, checking how much electricity Pacific Gas & Electric customers have used.

    But PG&E doesn't need many people like Liscano making rounds anymore. Every day, the utility replaces 1,200 old-fashioned meters with digital versions that can collect information without human help, generate more accurate power bills, even send an alert if the power goes out.

    "I can see why technology is taking over," says Liscano, 66, who earns $67,000 a year. "We can see the writing on the wall." His department employed 50 full-time meter readers just six years ago. Now, it has six.

  • AP IMPACT: Recession, tech kill middle-class jobs

    EDITOR'S NOTE: First in a three-part series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology.

    NEW YORK (AP) — Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over.

    And the situation is even worse than it appears.

    Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What's more, these jobs aren't just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren't just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.

    They're being obliterated by technology.