Column on retail missed the mark

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By The Staff

The Monitor’s practice of giving space to Richard Hannemann’s critical harangues is tiresome but would be much more tolerable if it did not support publication of misinformation and mischaracterization of the positions and activities of others in the community. I want to point out that I am a recent victim. The aims and activities attributed by Hannemann to me and LACDC in his recent article on the editorial page are not mine. While I welcome informed, intelligent opinions about important issues facing our community, the Monitor’s publication of fabrications presented as fact by uninformed writers does a disservice to rational public discourse.  

Neither I nor my organization have or have had any strategy aimed at a “solution” of corporate retail or corporate restaurants, although we recognize that these kind of establishments are part of the commercial environment and we are not fearful of them.  In regard to retail, our goal is to do what we can within the resources we have to work with to increase retail opportunities in our community for businesses and, most importantly, for the people who live here. Retail needs a place to be, a market to serve and shopper traffic sufficient to fuel success. Just this year, ownership has been consolidated, existing uses have been removed and the land is being cleared at Trinity Place.

This finally sets the stage for finding out what can be done there to increase retail opportunities in our community. A county RFP is soliciting developer proposals by the end of July. The responses will tell us what is seen as possible. Please do not forget that producing revenue from the Trinity Place property is very important to the future funding of our public schools and that is one of the important considerations in the RFP.

A second factual error in the column is that my organization has had a program of retail recruitment. This is not true. Although we are interested in this and have made suggestions in support of such a program (our suggestions in no way focus on “corporate retail or restaurants”), we have no resources and have never had any resource for pursuing such a program. In the past two years, we have had resources under a county contract for targeted recruitment and retention of “base economy” organizations. As we recently reported to the county council, clients of this program have created or retained 97 jobs here over the past 20 months.

We believe that this has been an impressive outcome, especially in a weak overall economy. We remain interested in retail recruitment in the event we can obtain resources to undertake this kind of work.

Although we are not a retail recruiter, our organization has a staff that works hard to support our chamber members and businesses making the most of a fairly small set of resources we have been able to develop to do so. Services include thousands of business referrals made each year, advocacy for businesses that need help in solving problems, downtown events that have become community institutions and expectations, confidential business counseling, low cost business training and more. Make no doubt, it is the businesses and the people involved who take the risks and make the businesses go. We are proud to have played a positive role in one respect or another with helping many, many of them along their way.

Kevin Holsapple

Executive Director

Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation/Chamber of Commerce