By PATRICK SULLIVAN
Recently, there has been some misinformation in local media regarding Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC) and its associated Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet programs. I’d like to take this opportunity to provide some facts about the organization and the work we do.
LACDC is a private not-for-profit 501 C (6) economic development organization. It is not part of, nor subsidized by, Los Alamos County or by Los Alamos National Laboratory. LACDC does have a contract with the County to operate both visitor centers and a contract to perform Main Street services and fund the Creative District.
LACDC manages several economic development programs in the community including the Chamber of Commerce, MainStreet Program, Creative District, projectY cowork Los Alamos, Discover Los Alamos, The Los Alamos Research Park, and the Small Business Center. The Board of Directors is comprised of a wide variety of business owners and stakeholders in our community.
Each of these programs focuses on different aspects of economic development, ranging from local business assistance and advocacy; business retention, expansion and recruitment; downtown revitalization and redevelopment; and tourism. LACDC takes a holistic approach to economic development focusing on leveraging our community’s assets to diversify our economy and act as a catalyst of wealth creation.
Often LACDC will take a position on specific County initiatives. In most instances, that position is to advocate for stakeholder input on the proposed initiative and careful analysis of the impact the initiative may or may not have on our business community. The challenges facing small business in our community are multi-faceted and there is no “fix all” to overcome them. LACDC recognizes the need for respectful dialogue with a variety of opinions in order to work towards possible solutions. I believe business owners, property owners, County staff, County Councilors and residents share common goals. My direct office number is 505-661-4854 and I’m happy to discuss any issue with local business owners.
Over the past 14 months, much of the work of the Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet have focused on includes assisting our local businesses in weathering the pandemic. Both the Chamber and MainStreet have worked tirelessly to provide as much assistance and support to our local business community as possible.
A small sample of this work includes:
- Organized fund for community donations to assist 7 businesses broken into and vandalized on March 28 and distributed more than $11,200 in donations; directly contributed $2,500 to account for vandalized businesses March 28.
- Developed Summer Chamber Check promotion to give away Chamber Checks for shopping locally, with extra incentive for shopping on DP Road due to current construction in that vicinity; directly contributed $2,000 in Chamber Checks to this program to incentivize shopping locally.
- Emailed pertinent and timely updates multiple times per week, including grant & funding opportunities, press releases, webinars, contacts, comparisons of funding charts, public health orders, surveys, etc.
- Maintained list of COVID-related business resources on websites.
- Curated “LA Business Status” List to help local businesses communicate their status and offerings.
- Curated list of restaurants open during the COVID-19 shutdown and their respective offerings (delivery, curbside pickup etc.).
- Compiled list of open summer camp programs for the benefit of local parents and organizations.
- Compiled list of open day care programs for the benefit of local parents and businesses.
- Scheduled speakers for Los Alamos business community, including but not limited to:
- Congressman (now Senator) Ben Ray Lujan; NM Representative Christine Chandler; NM House Representative Antonio Maestas; NM Department of WorkForce Solutions Cabinet Secretary Bill McCamley; Lt Governor Howie Morales; LA County Manager Harry Burgess; LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus; LANL Director of Operations Kelly Beierschmitt; Small Business Development Center Director, Monther Jubran; Small Business and Entrepreneurship Advisor, Office of the Governor, Daniel Schlegel; Los Alamos Chief of Police Chief Dino Sgambellone, Accountant, Daphne Weir and more.
- Developed video campaign to promote local businesses that have a presence on the state’s buyNMLocal.com site, which promoted businesses that sell gift cards to help them get through the closures. Garnered funding from LANL and worked with local business PAC8 to develop three videos featuring 15 local businesses.
- Guided restaurants with permitting process to create outside dining venues.
- Assisted Pajarito Mountain and Mountain Capital Partners with granting funds to assist struggling restaurants, with $5,000 distributed.
- Assisted Philip Kunsberg and Central Park Square with distributing funds as an incentive to shop locally, with $10,000 in gift cards purchased from Central Park Square businesses.
- Promoted national, state and county initiatives to assist businesses.
- Secured masks from Department of Homeland Security and distributed to local businesses and organizations at no cost. Also purchased over $2,000 of PPE (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and cleaner) to donate businesses and organizations.
- Assisted the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) with distributing emergency funding to three local businesses.
- Chamber offered to defer annual dues payments.
- Purchased and donated 30 touchless thermometers to LAPS and three to UNM-LA.
- Donated $500 in Chamber Checks to LAPS for teachers.
- Curated content and launched a new Relocation Website, highlighting local resources, services, retail, restaurants and much more, to help newcomers better navigate and acclimate in our community during the pandemic and in the post-COVID world: www.DiscoverLosAlamos.com.
Los Alamos is more than capable of working together to solve complex problems. This is what our community was founded on.
LACDC looks forward to working in a positive and constructive manner toward developing a thriving small business community.