Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess announced this morning that Joan Ahlers has been selected for the position of Economic Development Administrator.
Ahlers has been the Chief Operations Officer for Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) for over four years, with oversight of six departments and responsibilities involving leased facilities, construction of new projects, custodial and maintenance operations, managing fixed assets, and technology and data integration. Under her leadership, she has been responsible for economic development of $32 million in the School District’s leased facilities, which involved building tenant relationships, writing lease agreements, and managing the properties owned by LAPS. Through increased productivity and automation, she worked to streamline school operations and reduce costs, along with improving communication between the public and LAPS on a variety of new projects and bond initiatives.
Ahlers also is co-owner of Courthouse Properties LLC, a privately held firm that performs real estate development for the State of New Mexico, specializing in design/build of office space and magistrate courthouses. Prior to joining the School District, Ahlers was also co-owner of North Mesa Builders in Los Alamos, providing new construction and remodeling services for homes.
“I am excited to welcome Joanie to our staff to take charge of our economic development division,” Burgess said. “She brings a wealth of diversified experience to the position, with knowledge of our community and partnerships that she has established throughout the region. With her background and experience, she should enable us to make significant progress on our stated goals and initiatives.”
Burgess said that the County has a long-standing partnership with LAPS and he has worked with Ahlers on various projects through the years. Local residents may recall that Ahlers was a key part of the School’s contract negotiation team when the County and LAPS were vacating the Trinity Site (today known as the Smith’s Marketplace site). She has been an outspoken advocate for Los Alamos and the School District at the local, state and national level.
“During the interview, Joanie clearly demonstrated her passion, interests and talents align well with County goals,” Burgess said. “She is interested in improving the quality of life in our community, bringing young families to Los Alamos to live and work, exploring new options for companies to locate or re-locate here, and providing us with data, tracking and measures that will move us forward with our economic development initiatives. I think she will bring a fresh new perspective to us, and I look forward to working with her.”
Ahlers will report directly to Burgess in the County Manager’s Office, and will have oversight of the Economic Development Division, which handles real estate and County property negotiations, working with the Community Development Department on housing and rehabilitation of existing stock housing issues, launch of the new branding initiative, tourism and attractions, contracts with the local Chamber of Commerce and the Los Alamos Commerce & Development corporation, the Los Alamos Film Office, and on-going facilitation of regional partnerships such as the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities and the Northern New Mexico Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI).
Her first day of employment will be Monday, Dec. 5.