Mr. Phelps think on the future

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By Richard Hannemann

Dear Editor,


First, I’d like to congratulate Ralph Phelps on his appointment to council. He’ll do the job to the best of his ability with honor and integrity.


 Personally, I’m not all that dissappointed that I wasn’t appointed. But from a policy perspective, I am a bit surprised and a bit dismayed the Debbie Gill was not selected, for she has a solid understanding of the need to broaden the economic base of Los Alamos.


 And we really need to do this. The formula of reliance on a single large company, in this case the lab, with smaller off-shoots of a single industry, in this case science, plus some additional retail, is a formula which is dicey at best. If the company gets in trouble, the town, any town, is in deep trouble.  


For most small towns with this economic formula, it is market forces, or other externals, that create the difficulty. For Los Alamos, the lynch-pin is the reliance on the Federal Government and 430 people for whom Los Alamos is not a part of their constituency.  That the lab has been semi-privatized helps in this regard, but it also makes the lab susceptable to market forces which are just as unpredictable.


 People in business fill out a Sched C every year when they do their taxes. The Sched has a block where you enter a code for your type of business, a code which comes from a list of business clasifications the Feds have developed.  


There are 316 such business classifications, plus one for “unclassified establishments (unable to classify).” The list has 19 general group headings, of which 4, accounting for 83 classifications, are not represented in Los Alamos, and 1 group heading of which half, 9, are not represented in Los Alamos.“Retail Trade” has 60 classifications, of which 20 are not represented in Los Alamos.  


Under the heading, “Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services” there are only 5 scientific classifications which fit Los Alamos. Just looking at the above, 112 of the 316 business classifications are not represented in Los Alamos.  Add business classifications from the other headings and that number goes higher.  


 Over one third of the federally recognized business classifications are not represented in Los Alamos.


 There is obviously room and opportunity for economic base expanision.  


The question is,  do we want to do anything about this, or do we want to be content with retail and not even the full range thereof, and the lab?


Los Alamos