Economic Development Administrator Daniel Ungerleider
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Economic development is one of the most widely discussed topics in Los Alamos County. It appears in the council’s strategic priorities and in the comprehensive plan. Committees, studies and plans have all been created to stir up economic development in the County.
It is so important that the County has recently hired a new Economic Development Administrator to fill a long-time vacancy.
The position was vacant for an extended time after Joan Ahlers left but Daniel Ungerleider has picked up the reigns.
Ungerleider began his new job July 12, but he brings lengthy experience to his position. Ungerleider, who is from the Chicago area, worked as the Community Development Director for a small town called Clarendon Hills. While there, he said he was part of a grass roots effort to revitalize the downtown. Two-thirds of this project was funded through grants.
He said he sees a lot of similarities between Los Alamos and Clarendon Hills. Both are affluent and well-educated – which are very advantageous to getting things done.
“We did a lot of work (in Clarendon Hills) and I am very proud of it and I’m looking forward to doing that here in Los Alamos,” Ungerleider said.
Besides working in the public sector, Ungerleider said he worked for a private building company, too.
“I have experience in both the private and public sector so hopefully I can bring that in developing both White Rock and Los Alamos,” he said.
Just how does Ungerleider plan to help develop businesses in Los Alamos?
“My number one goal is to get to meet with the community and the businesses … and let them know I am a resource,” he said.
Ungerleider added he plans to “knock on doors” as well as work with existing organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce. He said he plans to speak at a Chamber event in August, where he can introduce himself and hopefully open up the dialogue about economic development.
Aligning resources with needs also is key, Ungerleider said.
One of these resources is people. More people are needed in Los Alamos to help nurture existing businesses and attract new ones, he said. There are certainly challenges to economic development in Los Alamos as seen by the ever-growing list of vacant commercial properties. However, Ungerleider said there are things working to Los Alamos’ benefit.
“It’s a beautiful location,” he said. “It’s a safe community, it’s a healthly community … everything it needs is here, expect people.”
Plus, the community has the desire to work to achieve economic development, Ungerleider said.
“The community is ready, which is good,” he said. “It’s a step ahead of other communities in New Mexico.”
The opportunities and challenges that come with the Economic Development Administrator position was what drew Ungerleider to relocate to Los Alamos as well as its history and landscape, he said.
Ungerleider added that he is enjoying his new workplace.
He said he appreciates the “friendly, helpful and open atmosphere that is in the local County government.”
Besides working, Ungerleider said he and his wife haven’t stopped hiking since they arrived in town. He added that -they have two college-age children.