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Business/Economy

  • SF hospital lays off 36 employees in prep for Obamacare

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe hospital that is the city's largest private employer is reducing its work force in what it is says is a response to the federal health law.

    Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center says it is laying off 36 employees and changing additional employees' assignments and hours.

    Vice President Lillian Montoya says the hospital is realigning some of its services to conform to the health law's goal of reducing hospitals' inpatient populations.

    Christus St. Vincent still has nearly 1,950 employees.

    The hospital had an operating surplus of $6.3 million on annual revenue of $330 million last year, and CEO Bruce Tassin says that's a very small surplus for an operation of the size of Christus St. Vincent.

  • Blackberry to Remain Public; Shares Tank
  • Firm celebrates nearly two decades in LA

    When you live in an area where the local economy is as tightly intertwined as it is between Los Alamos and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, being a small business owner can be
    a challenge.

    So, for RE/MAX of Los Alamos, located at 116 Central Park Square, to still be in business after 18 years is quite an accomplishment; the firm just celebrated its anniversary recently.

    “Eighteen years in Los Alamos is a pretty good run,” said the firm’s current owner, Kendra Henning. Henning is the third owner since 1995. She became the owner in 2007, after working at the firm as a realtor since 2002.

    According to Kelly Myers, a realtor with the firm since 2005, a big reason why they’re still around is because Henning has her finger on the pulse of everything real estate-related that goes on in town, and gets that information to her associates quickly.

    “She spends a lot of time accumulating data, and that data has been so helpful when it comes to educating our clients, whether they’re a buyer or a seller,” Myers said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we provide such excellent service.”

    According to Myers, the information they get from the central office is invaluable, given the type of clients they are dealing with.

  • Sticker shock often follows insurance cancellation

    MIAMI (AP) — Dean Griffin liked the health insurance he purchased for himself and his wife three years ago and thought he'd be able to keep the plan even after the federal Affordable Care Act took effect.

    But the 64-year-old recently received a letter notifying him the plan was being canceled because it didn't cover certain benefits required under the law.

    The Griffins, who live near Philadelphia, pay $770 monthly for their soon-to-be-terminated health care plan with a $2,500 deductible. The cheapest plan they found on their state insurance exchange was a so-called bronze plan charging a $1,275 monthly premium with deductibles totaling $12,700. It covers only providers in Pennsylvania, so the couple, who live near Delaware, won't be able to see doctors they've used for more than a decade.

    "We're buying insurance that we will never use and can't possibly ever benefit from. We're basically passing on a benefit to other people who are not otherwise able to buy basic insurance," said Griffin, who is retired from running an information technology company.

  • Local pub brews up successful first year

    A year ago this week, the Pajarito Brewpub and Grill opened its doors for the first time, adding a little flair to the local nightlife. The pub was a welcome addition to the local restaurant scene, and it has established a niche as the place to go for cold beer, great food and entertainment, especially late at night.

    The business is a creation of four partners: Cathy Mockler, also the owner of North Road Inn, and son Patrick Mockler-Wood; and Pawel and Dorota Listwan. The group met and became good friends two years ago at the Central Avenue Grill. They all had a background in the restaurant industry, and often discussed partnering to open their own restaurant someday. Cathy and Patrick say that after the closure of the Grill, and the subsequent loss of their investment in that restaurant, they all became much more serious about bringing their own project to life.

    They began making plans and exploring their options for funding along with storefront space. It all really came together when Patrick received a phone call from the landlord of the old Blockbuster location, who remembered him from a previous inquiry. Soon after, they signed the lease and began remodeling the space. In a little over seven months, they were open for business.

  • Hilltop Spa ribbon cutting

    The Hilltop Spa had its ribbon cutting grand opening celebration on Thursday. Owner Tracy Maddox (second from left) was accompanied by many members of the community, including Katy Korkos (third from left) of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.

  • Social Security benefits to go up by 1.5 percent

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Social Security benefits for nearly 58 million people will increase by 1.5 percent next year, the government announced Wednesday.

    The increase is among the smallest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. It is small because consumer prices haven't gone up much in the past year.

    The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation that was released Wednesday morning.

    The COLA affects benefits for more than one-fifth of the country. In addition to Social Security payments, it affects benefits for millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees and people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.

    The amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes is also going up. Social Security is funded by a 12.4 percent tax on the first $113,700 in wages earned by a worker, with half paid by employers and the other half withheld from workers' pay.

    The wage threshold will increase to $117,000 next year, the Social Security Administration said. Wages above the threshold are not subject to Social Security taxes.

    Social Security pays retired workers an average of $1,272 a month. A 1.5 percent raise comes to about $19.

  • Health policy cancellations: New blow for Obama admin.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Move over, website woes. Lawmakers confronted the Obama administration Tuesday with a difficult new health care problem — a wave of cancellation notices hitting small businesses and individuals who buy their own insurance.

    At the same time, the federal official closest to the website apologized for its dysfunction in new sign-ups and asserted things are getting better by the day.

    Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said it's not the administration but insurers who are responsible for cancellation letters now reaching many of the estimated 14 million people who buy individual policies. And, officials said, people who get cancellation notices will be able to find better replacement plans, in some cases for less.

    The Associated Press, citing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, reported in May that many carriers would opt to cancel policies this fall and issue new ones. Administratively that was seen as easier than changing existing plans to comply with the new law, which mandates coverage of more services and provides better financial protection against catastrophic illnesses.

  • Brothers fashion a new pursuit

    High-tech printing services have finally made it to Los Alamos, thanks to the creative forces of two brothers, Josh and Caleb Stringer, who officially opened JCS Printing this month.

    After spending four years in the printing industry in New York, Josh longed to own and operate his own printing business. Tired of the east coast, Josh moved back to New Mexico this year, and decided to put his marketing degree from New Mexico State to good use by opening his own business.

    Caleb’s love of art and fashion design made him a natural business partner. Together, they decided to initially focus their attention on the manufacturing end of the printing process, with plans to create and sell their own unique designs in the future. They soon purchased a new Anajet direct-to-garment printer, spending months training and attending conferences in order to hone their new skills and learn the intricacies of their new equipment.

  • LA ranks second behind Clayton

    Last year about this time, Los Alamos ranked pretty high on one of “America’s Best Communities For Young People” by an organization called the Promise Alliance.
    In October 2013, a website called nerdwallet.com has taken up the mantle. Nerdwallet.com’s staff is currently in the middle of rating communities in all 50 states, and they just completed New Mexico.
    In their New Mexico list, Los Alamos was ranked second, right behind Clayton, which seemed to have claimed the top spot due rate of growth, monthly homeowner costs and median home value.
    According to nerdwallet.com, the median home value of a house in Los Alamos is $308,000 compared to Clayton’s $86,700. Monthly Owner Costs in Los Alamos is $1,948, as compared to $957 in Clayton. From 1999 to 2011, Clayton experienced a 57.4 percent growth rate as compared to Los Alamos’ 45.9 percent.
    Overall, New Mexico is ranking somewhere in the middle as one of the best states for young people, said nerdwallet.com’s spokesperson, Laura Zulliger. The website is about two thirds of the way through its survey.