• Mexico's economy still lags after NAFTA

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Looking around a Mexico dotted by Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Krispy Kreme outlets, it’s hard to remember the country before the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has dramatically expanded consumer choice and trade since it took effect 20 years ago on Jan. 1.
    While it changed the country in some fundamental ways, the treaty never met many of its sweeping promises to close Mexico’s wage gap with the United States, boost job growth, fight poverty and protect the environment. Mexico’s weak unions and competition from Asia and Central America kept wages down; the tightening of security along the U.S. border closed off Mexico’s immigration “escape valve,” and environmental provisions in the agreement proved less powerful than those protecting investors.
    Mexico took advantage of the accord with the United States and Canada in some areas. The auto, electronics and agriculture sectors grew, and foreign banks moved in, increasing access to credit, but a majority of Mexicans saw little benefit in income. While there is undoubtedly a larger middle class today, Mexico is the only major Latin American country where poverty also has grown in recent years.

  • LANB, OCC modify regulatory pact

    The Los Alamos National Bank signed another consent order with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Dec. 17.
    LANB president Steve Wells said this consent order replaces the one signed with the OCC in November of last year.
    “It further clarifies the areas LANB needs to address to be in compliance and to meet the expectations of our primary regulator,” Wells said in an email.
    According to a SEC release, the focus of the order is on improving the bank’s credit administration, credit underwriting, internal controls, compliance and management supervision. Additionally, the Order requires that the Bank maintain certain capital ratios and receive approval of the OCC prior to declaring dividends.
    The Order terminates the previously entered Formal Agreement dated November 30, 2012 and will remain in effect until terminated, modified or suspended by the OCC.”
    Wells said the consent order does not directly affect an agreement that LANB signed with Kansas City Federal Reserve earlier this year.

  • Holiday sales down for third week

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stores are hoping Americans who’ve been tight-fisted with their money will get the last-minute itch to buy in the final week of the holiday shopping season.
    After a strong start to the season, sales at stores have fallen for three consecutive weeks. That puts a lot of pressure on retailers to get shoppers into stores in the final days of what’s typically the busiest shopping period of the year.
    Sales at U.S. stores dropped 3.1 percent to $42.7 billion for the week that ended on Sunday compared with the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 locations. That follows a decline of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent during the first and second weeks of the month, respectively.
    The numbers, which don’t include online sales, are another challenge in what has largely turned out to be a disappointing holiday shopping season for stores. The two-month period that begins on Nov. 1 is important for retailers because they can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales during that time.

  • New Year's Eve right around the corner

    As the twinkle of the holiday season begins to dim, everyone begins to prepare for the next big celebration, New Year’s Eve. Locals do not need to travel too far this year to properly ring in 2014. There are plenty of events and activities happening throughout the day and night on New Year’s Eve, as local businesses prepare to help residents celebrate close to home.
    Traveling Safe
    Traveling safe this New Year’s Eve is easier than ever. The transit system is running its regularly scheduled day routes, continuing runs throughout the night until 2 am. Scheduling ahead is ideal; however, they will be accepting calls on New Year’s Eve, as well. For reservations or more information, contact them at 662-RIDE.
    The Los Alamos Taxi will also be providing transportation services on New Year’s Eve. They provide door-to-door pick-up and delivery and have the ability, with advance notice, to transport large groups to parties both on and off the hill. Call for a quote and scheduling at 505-250-8943.
    The Great Outdoors
    Spend the day with the family under the beautiful New Mexico sky ice skating or skiing. The Los Alamos County Skating Rink is open from noon – 6 p.m. on both New Year’s Eve and Day.

  • Main Street President Visits Los Alamos

    The president of National Main Street, an organization that funds and helps manage the revitalization and preservation of downtown districts across the country, recently paid a visit to Los Alamos. Los Alamos is a member of the organization.
    Patrice Frey, who has been the organization’s president for six months, said she was on a national assessment tour of “Main Street” communities.
    “I’m trying to reach out to as many Main Streets as I can and learn as much as I can about what’s going on in the field,” she said during a recent stop at the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.
    She hopes to take what she’s learned from the tour and apply it on a national level.
    She was also present at a press conference in Santa Fe that detailed the impact of National Main Street on New Mexican communities over the past 28 years.
    While in Los Alamos, Frey toured Fuller Lodge, Ashley Pond, C.B. Fox Department store and the Bradbury Science Museum.
    Other towns on her stop included Corrales and Santa Fe. In New Mexico, there are about 28 communities that belong and consult with National Main Street, which has a state office as well as branches in the communities it represents.
    Though the tour was a brief one, Frey said it really highlighted Los Alamos’ economic uniqueness.

  • Local taxi service gears up for holiday season

    Local business owner Cindy Capelli is best known for her business New Mexico Wine Tours, but few are aware that Capelli also runs a local taxi service that provides a variety of affordable services to the community.
    Capelli launched Los Alamos Taxi a year ago this December, as a way to get locals home safe after holiday parties and events. Her main objective was to help limit the number of DWIs and associated accidents in the county, but she also wanted to do her part toward the initiative to provide residents with a night life close to home. Although the county runs the transit buses during the day, there were no transportation services available after 7 p.m. or the weekends. She wanted to fill that void.
    She started out slow, gradually adding services and additional vehicles to her fleet. She says the laboratory employees and visitors were the first to catch on. Rather than renting a car, lab visitors would employ her services to travel during their stay, including transportation to and from the airport in Albuquerque. She also began working in tandem with the commuter flight service that operates out of the local airport.
    Capelli says that visiting summer students also really enjoyed the taxi service this year. It made it easy to get around an unfamiliar town and provided a safe way to enjoy the local night life.

  • Publisher announces plans to step down

    Los Alamos Monitor Publisher Keven Todd has announced that he will step down from the post at the end of the year.

    In a meeting with staff Todd reviewed progress the multimedia news and information organization has made since he came on board as publisher in August of 2009.

    “I made a commitment to this operation and to the community to revitalize the Los Alamos Monitor,” Todd said. “The financial performance judged against a number of key benchmarks has continued to improve over the last three years—during a very challenging time for the economy both locally and across the nation. We’ve done a good job of diversifying our revenue streams, and there’s a strong team in place who have worked diligently to improve the value we deliver to our readers and advertisers. With those things accomplished, this is an opportune time for me to step aside to make way for fresh leadership who can take this operation to its next level.”

  • A co-op to call their own

    Since the opening in 2011, the goal of the Los Alamos Co-op Market has been to cater to the community.
    With the purchase of the building at 95 Entrada Dr., General Manager Steve Watts said that goal will continue. He said the community had a lot to do with purchasing the building.
    The co-op has been leasing the building from Main Gate LLC since its opening and Main Gate was instrumental in providing the co-op with an affordable and timely option when the co-op was looking for a location nearly four years ago, with a ground-breaking in 2010. The building was purchased late last month for $1.65 million. “Overall, it was a smooth process,” Watts said.
    The co-op board and Watts have worked on the purchase for approximately six months after determining that it would be in the best interest of the co-op member/owners to own rather than continue leasing.
    “This move has improved our cash position,” Watts said. “Because of the improved situation we are able to repay member loans.” There are about 180 investors. Repayment of member loans begins in 2015.

  • Timeout Pizza preps for LA eatery

    Six years ago, Trish and Omar Sanchez took a leap of faith and opened a new pizza restaurant in White Rock, which has seen its share of local restaurants come and go. Many closed, changed hands, names and faces; but Timeout Pizza has endured, grown and thrived over the years.

    The couple set out to create a family restaurant that also captures the originality and flair of the community. They did just that and they are now known as the local gathering place for parties and team celebrations. The walls of the restaurant are filled with sports memorabilia and antiques, most of which are relics donated by Los Alamos residents or came straight out of Omar’s childhood home in southern New Mexico. The menu offers pizzas, sandwiches, ice cream and more at affordable prices; as well as, conference space and delivery services.

  • Chamber’s golden milestone