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Business/Economy

  • Forest Service gives nod to Taos Ski Valley expansion

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has approved Taos Ski Valley's request to expand its expert terrain by 60 percent with two new lifts that will take skiers to popular high alpine areas currently accessible only to hikers.

    The plan also calls for upgrades to three other lifts, thinning of trees to expand two new glade areas for advanced intermediate to expert skiers, construction of a permanent tubing facility, a snowshoe trail system and a lift-served mountain bike trail for summer visitors.

    Officials hailed the action as crucial for helping the northern New Mexico ski area keep pace with competitors in Colorado.

  • New Mexico plans summit on economic policies

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez's administration plans a summit in October to gather recommendations for boosting New Mexico's economy.

    The Economic Development Department is organizing the "New Century Economic Summit" in Albuquerque on Oct. 2 to hear from community and business leaders and educators.

    Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said policy recommendations may be incorporated into legislative proposals and the agency's long-term strategic plan for expanding the economy.

    Barela said the summit needs to consider New Mexico's tax system, infrastructure, economic development incentives and educational programs for preparing a competitive workforce.

    The summit will be held at the Workforce Training Center at Central New Mexico Community College. There is a $25 registration fee, and the public policy group New Mexico First is helping with the summit

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  • It's a Gas

    The kiosk for the new Smith’s Fueling Station went up this week. Smith’s Manager John Roberts said the target date for completion is Oct. 3.

  • VNA hosts mixer

    Members of the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Association and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce recently came together to celebrate and talk about the LAVNA’s latest project at the old Scout Lodge on Canyon Road. The “Food and Networking” (FAN) event focuses on building Los Alamos’ first hospice. Though plans aren’t final yet, the LAVNA plans to move to the site in October and start the project in earnest.

  • Talking fuel pumps new to LA

    If the normally quiet pumps at your favorite gas station have started spouting advertisements at you recently, chances are the station is one of three locations now under longterm lease to Western Refining.

    In an agreement signed June 6, Western Refining acquired longterm leases from Polk Oil on 12 stations throughout Northern New Mexico. The Chevron on Trinity Drive, the Shell station on Diamond Drive and the Conoco Quik Stop in White Rock are part of that group.

    Although Western Refining operates 222 stores throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Southern Colorado and West Texas — known as Giant Convenience Centers — this is the company’s first venture into Los Alamos County.

    “The transition has gone well,” said Gary Hanson, vice president of corporate communications. “We’ve completed rebranding and the office systems have been converted. And we’re very pleased with the performance of those stations.”

    “Our retail stores help us as a business. They give us an outlet for the oil and gas we produce at our refineries. So it’s good to add these stores to our mix,” Hanson continued. The company has refineries in El Paso and Gallup.

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  • NM forecasts 4% revenue growth in next budget year

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new financial forecast estimates more than $270 million will be available to lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez for budget increases next year.

    Top officials in the Martinez administration outlined the revenue projections on Wednesday to the Legislative Finance Committee during a meeting in Angel Fire.

    The state expects to collect $5.9 billion during the 2014 fiscal year, which starts next July. That's $272 million more than the state will spend this year. That's also the pool of so-called new money available for spending increases on public education and other government programs as well as to offset any tax cuts that may be enacted.

    Lawmakers estimate that several obligations in current law, such as higher public employee pension payments by the state, will require $74 million of the money.

  • Preparation will spur economic growth

    When Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher asked for council’s approval of his Economic Development Fund program priorities and budget two weeks ago, he painted a grim picture of the current situation.

    Although some needs — such as replacing an aging county infrastructure — are being addressed, critical pieces of a sound foundation are missing.

    A shortage of desirable commercial sites and blight are two issues that have been identified.

    “We had a national retailer that we met at the International Conference of Shopping Centers who came into town last week looking for 4,000 square feet for a national sporting goods store. He couldn’t find anything that suited him,” Fisher said. “We’re pushing real hard to get him into something now, but the point is, having a good quality commercial product available is half the battle of getting economic development in the community.”

    “We have a lot of aging commercial properties. It comes with the territory when you have a community that was built about the same time. Many of the buildings are 50 and 60 and 70 years old now, and that’s just the time when they either get renovated or fall apart,” Fisher said.

    Fisher acknowledged the county’s limitations in cleaning up blight.

  • Summertime blues for drivers: Gas at August record

    You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.

    U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That's the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578.

    More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.

    Retail gasoline prices have gone up about 39 cents per gallon, or 12 percent, since hitting a low of $3.326 on July 2, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. Kloza estimates that U.S. drivers are paying $149 million more each day for gas than in early July. That isn't what the sluggish economy needs, since any extra money that goes to fill gas tanks doesn't get spent at movie theaters or restaurants.