Girrens On Local Economic Development Opportunities

By STEVEN GIRRENS
County Councilor

I open sadly by expressing my sincerest condolences to the Vance Hatler family. Our community has lost an honorable native son, who was a loving husband to Karri and a father to four beautiful children. I am especially saddened as Vance was proving himself a capable budding leader in his work environment at the Laboratory. I will relish the memory of experiencing Little League Baseball with Vance, Loren and dad-coach Larry over 35 years ago in White Rock. Rest in peace Vance.

I take this opportunity to present my perspectives on a couple items of significant importance that are occurring in our community. Many towns quest valiantly for economic development opportunities. We have had two major economic development opportunities drop into our laps. The first I call attention to is the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Together with Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve, our town has three national park sites, which will annually attract thousands of visitors to our community. Our challenge will be how to get these tourists to visit several days in the area, engaging with our town, all the while enjoying our natural beauties and historic stories and settings.

The second and most important opportunity is LANL’s heightened recruiting and hiring efforts, seeking entry-level staff across all trades and professions. What an opportunity to increase our population with young folks and families, and hopefully, rise back above the 20,000 resident level, which seems to be a magic number for buoying a more vibrant local business and socially-interwoven community. I believe that increasing our population is a tide that raises all boats. Facilitating opportunities that provide more housing, especially affordable housing, must be an urgent economic development initiative for the County Council to champion and exploit. I staunchly concur with our 2016 Strategic Leadership Goal to “promote the maintenance and enhancement of housing stock and quality while utilizing available infill opportunities as appropriate.”

Affordable housing provides potential residents with more opportunities to live and work in Los Alamos, while an increased population offers all businesses a larger pool of customers and employees. We must work expeditiously to increase the overall housing stock available for new Laboratory employees to reside in Los Alamos County. Lastly, I am disappointed that Kristin Henderson decided not to seek re-election to the County Council. I am very grateful for her dedication and accomplishments while on Council and the honor and pleasure of serving with her since January 2013. The camaraderie you build among Councilors is special. Kristin is an outstanding public servant, ambassador and leader in our community. I trust and look forward that she returns to serve our community again at some point in the future.

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