Powered by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos County is a global center for national security and research development. As LANL continues to produce world-class science and technology, keen entrepreneurs are finding new applications for Lab-born innovations in the international marketplace. The tech start-ups featured in this publication are basing and growing in Los Alamos as much for what the area doesn’t have (traffic, pollution, crime), as for what it does have: more PhD’s per capita, mountain living with 300+ sunny days each year, excellent schools, outdoor recreation amenities and a sense of community that is uniquely scientific.
Ask UbiQD founder Hunter McDaniel about his mission for his company, and the sky’s the limit: “To power smart cities of the future where the windows of skyscrapers produce their own energy.” In fact, the bright, low toxicity quantum dots McDaniel and his colleagues are producing gives window glass stable optical properties that hold up to high temperatures and moisture exposure. UbiQD has discovered a way to manufacture very bright I-III-IV quantum dots at low cost, using environmentally friendly synthesis that is free of toxic heavy metals or other carcinogenic materials. Los Alamos’ high altitude and dry climate provides ideal conditions for reproducible nanomaterial manufacturing. Also, the close proximity to two world class research institutions in LANL and Sandia National Laboratory allows for beneficial scientific collaborations with leading scientists in the area. With plans to expand its team by 20 new hires, UbiQD is engaging in R&D around emerging applications for its technology, with plans to license these technologies to customers. McDaniel returns to his company’s mission statement: “We think these revolutionary new materials can improve lives via applications in energy, security, safety, design, and more.”
Tibbar Plasma Technologies tibbartech.com
Sometimes retirement is an opportunity to relax, read, travel. But in the case of Tibbar Plasma Technologies’ founder Rick Nebel, retiring from LANL was the perfect opportunity to go back to the laboratory with his colleagues, many of whom are also LANL retirees, to find out how to build a better plasma-based electrical transformer. Formed in 2016, the Tibbar team employs plasma theorists, plasma experimentalists, engineers and technicians who truly love what they do. Tibbar is currently in the R&D phase, with $3.5 million in funding from the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
Tibbar is working on a two year project to develop plasma-based electrical transformers that are smaller, lighter, and cheaper to produce with inherent surge and fault protection properties. It’s a revolutionary design they hope will attract private investors, customers, grant providers and licensees to bring the technology to markets like solar PV farms, undersea cable installations, off-shore wind platforms and wind farms. “Plasma based electrical transformers have the potential to reduce the cost of transforming power by a factor of 2x-10x,” said Rick Nebel, owner of Tibbar.
“This is a disruptive technology that will make long distance transmission of electricity a lot more affordable. This is particularly important for states like New Mexico that are developing renewable energy to export to more populous states,” said Nebel. Like most of Tibbar’s employees, Nebel has raised a family and spent most of his life in Los Alamos.
Local Business Assistance
Building a robust growth economy is a top priority for the Los Alamos County Council and staff. As home to the number one employer for the Northern New Mexico region, the County works to leverage the economic influence and impact of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Partnerships with federal, state and surrounding local governments, including the Eight Northern Pueblos, provide an economic infrastructure to support business attraction, retention and expansion efforts that benefit the region and the state. Los Alamos County, together with its local partners, offers a portfolio of assistance for businesses seeking to start, expand, or relocate to the County. Its Economic Development Division stands ready to assist with business needs in the areas of:
• Site selection services and site analysis
• Permit processing and assistance
• Planning, Zoning and Utility department liaison services
• Official introductions in the community and region
• Public Code interpretation and enforcement services
• Grants, low interest loans, land and/or infrastructure for qualified economic development purposes (LEDA)
For more information, visit LOSALAMOSNM.US.
Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation (LACDC)
The LACDC was founded in 1983 by community-minded visionaries, and since that time, has played an important role in the development of the Los Alamos community:
• projectY Co-work Los Alamos is a collaborative co-working space, the first of its kind in NM with unique public/private funding sources.
• Property Operations maintains an extensive real estate portfolio all designed to serve new and growing business enterprises in Los Alamos County, and housing more than 40 businesses and organizations.
• Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce facilitates connections, by advocating for economic initiatives to improve our community and helping members be visible through networking and promotional initiatives.
• MainStreet program produces and supports downtown events and downtown re-development initiatives.
• The Meeting & Visitor Bureau program assists tourists and visitors, and helps local businesses and attractions promote themselves.
Los Alamos County is upping its marketing game to capitalize on the recent increase in visitation and visibility. The County is building on tourism marketing efforts that are producing steady increases in Lodgers’ Tax revenues, visitation, event attendance, publicity, and social media metrics. Adding gross receipts tax revenues and conversion metrics to that list are part of a comprehensive Tourism Strategic Plan initiative to be completed in 2017.
Currently, the County is recognized by the New Mexico Tourism Department as a tourism growth leader in the state. In 2016, the Los Alamos MainStreet program was deemed the “One to Watch” at the National Great American Main Street Awards, and Los Alamos’ signature event, ScienceFest, was awarded “Outstanding Event” by the New Mexico Hospitality Association.
The County is also focused on destination development and managing the visitor experience, including development of the Wayfinding Plan, as well as a customer service audit and training to help employees and residents become Los Alamos ambassadors—designed to engender positive perceptions about Los Alamos.
The Brand Action Plan includes a Business and Talent Attraction campaign to recruit and convert prospective business owners and employees to relocate to Los Alamos. These efforts will be conducted in collaboration with LANL human resource specialists, who are seeking to recruit more than 2,400 new employees over a five-year period.
Housing Demand & Programs
Land Transfers/Building Potential
Los Alamos County is a unique place in location, geography, history and property ownership. During the Manhattan Project in 1943, all of the property was owned by the Department of Defense (DOD). In 1968, the government made the decision to divest themselves of the responsibility of owning a town, so Los Alamos was officially incorporated, and the property was sold to the existing residents. If a parcel was unoccupied, the federal government retained ownership.
Since that time, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has been transferring ownership of these unoccupied parcels of land to Los Alamos County as a mechanism to support economic development and sustainability. As a result, the County is in the process of actively soliciting development concepts for these tracts of available land.
The current housing demand in the County is extremely high, with available inventory at an all time low. Based upon LANL projections and current retirement trends, there is a significant need for housing units of all types.
Demand estimates show the number of potential households that would buy a home now, if housing stock was available on the market, is as high as 2,250 units. With an increase in retirees wishing to remain in Los Alamos as well as a growing workforce, the housing products needed include:
• Rental unit apartments
• Multi-family townhouse/condominium units
• Senior housing for purchase
• Single family
• Downsizing options for “empty-nesters”
Separated by the stretch of New Mexico Highway 501 (“Main Hill Road”) and more than a thousand foot elevation change, Los Alamos County’s two communities have distinctly different microclimates, topography, development and personalities. Los Alamos Townsite, at 7300’ elevation, is defined by its proximity to the mountains, diverse housing, burgeoning retail activity, and its tourism and recreation attractions. White Rock, at 6200’ elevation, is defined by its rugged canyons and overlooks, warmer temperatures, quiet family-friendly neighborhoods, and its physical and economic role as the primary gateway to Bandelier National Monument.
Los Alamos County is actively reinvesting in all areas within its borders, embracing the tenets of “placemaking,” incorporating extensive public involvement and a hands-on approach for improving the town and its neighborhoods in a way that inspires citizens to collectively re-imagine and reinvent public spaces.*
The 2016 edition of the Los Alamos Comprehensive Plan and a new business-friendly permitting system is facilitating smart development in both communities. County-wide, residents are considering funding and execution of recreation projects designed to generate revenue and other economic opportunities to improve the quality of life in Los Alamos and White Rock. Also the County is involving citizens and the business community in projects to improve signage, promotions and customer service at every visitor interface—actions that will enhance the sense of place for both visitors and citizens.
*Definition provided by Project for Public Spaces (PPS)
Los Alamos Townsite Improvements
The Los Alamos Townsite is taking the concept of placemaking to the next level with a series of projects designed to transform land and properties to their highest and best use. Los Alamos County used Capital Improvement Program Funds and matching grants with the State Economic Development Department to renovate or replace blighted infrastructure, bringing new amenities to residents.
With matching Main Street grant funds, the County completed streetscape improvements to Central Avenue—downtown Los Alamos’ “Main Street.” In addition to resurfacing and curb improvements, sidewalks, crosswalks and planters were relocated to improve site distance and pedestrian access. Lights, poles, benches, bike racks, and trash and recycling bins were replaced with mid-Century styles, harkening back to the Manhattan Project era.
The County also completed a $4 million renovation of the Historic Fuller Lodge and Guest Cottage (the History Museum), upgrading electrical systems, restoring original features and expanding access in anticipation of the increased visitation to the new History Museum Campus and other Manhattan Project National Historical Park assets.
South 20th Street. The County has acquired land, completed infrastructure, and is proceeding with design and construction of a street extension to provide access to a new high-tech commercial district just south of the County’s main road to the Lab, New Mexico Highway 501 (NM501)/Trinity Drive. Currently the site of high tech start-up Descartes Labs’ headquarters (see article on page 6), the surrounding land will be subdivided into five ½- acre lots, and sold to developers upon completion of the roadwork.
1010 Central. Located in the Downtown District, this parcel is adjacent to the County Municipal Building, that is frequented by the public and its 630 employees, and is zoned for retail, commercial or mixed-use. The Los Alamos County Council is working with staff to create a new land use policy to guide development of the land parcels that the County has acquired from the Department of Energy and the Schools District.
Down The Road
County Council approved conceptual designs, cost estimates, and funding to design and construct two projects that support economic development goals. The Deacon Street project, will transform an alley and parking lot area into a multi-use outdoor space that could be re-purposed for farmers markets and other events. The DP Road project will provide utility infrastructure, extending water, sewer and electrical services for access by some existing businesses and also for currently available, developable land (parcel A-8).
The County is pursuing expansion of REDINet, a multi-million dollar, high-speed broadband fiber project to enhance business data operations in Los Alamos. In addition, the State Legislature appropriated $275,000 in capital outlay for the “Middle Mile” project, an initiative to access land and infrastructure to bring fiber to Los Alamos.
Expansion & Renovations
Bathtub Row Brewing Cooperative completed a new outdoor patio with seating, and now offers an assortment of wine, snacks and entertainment. Blue Window Bistro moved into new space on Central Avenue in the heart of downtown, and added a bar in the back of the restaurant. Metzger’s Do It Best in White Rock completed renovations and improvements. Pig + Fig Café expanded its operation into a new space in White Rock. Rose Chocolatier moved to larger space and expanded from a chocolate shop to a coffeehouse. The Film Festival at Home rents movies, sells coffee and snacks, and recently added a laundromat.
O’Reilleys Auto Parts is set to open on Trinity Drive. Pasta Paradiso also renovated an old space and opened on Trinity Drive. The Trinity Place, anchored by the state’s first Smith’s Marketplace, has continued to expand with the opening of four new businesses—Ensignal Verizon, Supercuts, Galaxy Nails, Domino’s, and construction of a new McDonalds.
Hospitality Inside & Out
Los Alamos County’s lodging industry has largely relied on business from contractors and other visitors to the Lab. However, since adding two new National Parks in 2015, tourism trends are pointing to significant demand for new hotel product and co-located conference facilities to complement the current inventory.
“Los Alamos offers the economic stability, community investment and opportunity for growth that we look for in any acquisition. As home to the National Lab and the Gateway to Three National Parks, this town is a stable market for lodging. Our first priority in 2017 is a refresh of the Comfort Inn property from the inside out to meet the demands of this international travel market.” - JEFF SCHAUMANN, TATANKA HOLDINGS PRESIDENT - Acquired the Los Alamos Comfort Inn & Suites in December 2016.
COMFORT INN & SUITES
HAMPTON INN & SUITES
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS & SUITES
Bed & Breakfasts
NORTH ROAD INN B&B
PUEBLO CANYON INN & GARDENS
RVs, Camping, & Services
Los Alamos Main Gate Park
Located on NM502 at the entrance to Los Alamos, Main Gate Park is open year-round as a trailer and RV campground. Restrooms and a sewer dump station are available on-site. No electricity hook-ups.
White Rock Visitor Center RV Parking
Located at 115 State Road 4 in White Rock, NM, the White Rock Visitor Center RV Parking is open year-round, and contains 16 RV spaces with electricity hookups (30/50 amp), as well as a sewer dump station available on-site.
Camp May Pavilion and Campsites
Located 6 miles west of the Los Alamos town site, near the Pajarito Mountain ski area, Camp May offers tent and trailer camping, as well as restrooms, picnic areas, and a group pavilion and amphitheater. Camp May is open seasonally, May – October.
Los Alamos’ temperate climate and 300 days of blue skies and bright sun makes outdoor recreation a year-round activity for residents and visitors alike.
Just 15 miles from downtown Los Alamos, Pajarito Mountain is known for its challenging slopes and minimal lift lines during the ski season and equally challenging bike trails during the spring, summer and fall. Los Alamos County supports a public/private partnership with Texas Capital Partners (owners of Purgatory Resort at Durango and others) to develop and expand operations and assets for all seasons.
150+ Mile Trails Network
An aerial photo of Los Alamos County tells the trails story. The entire County’s commercial, retail and residential properties are nestled up against the Jemez Mountains or perched on top of finger mesas separated by deep canyons, with the White Rock plateau extending to a cliff’s edge before dropping to the Rio Grande. This unique topography puts a trail outside every door and a variety of natural environments to sample, from the Santa Fe National Forest to the 3,800-acres of County-owned and maintained open space, to the rugged, rocky slopes that lead to the Rio Grande. Currently, the County is developing canyon rim and urban trails to provide alternative options for residents to move around the downtown business area. Also in the works is a $500,000 project to develop a new, family-friendly biking flow trail system to connect Pajarito Mountain to the canyons below. This concept complements the expert-level trails on Pajarito Mountain with a system that accommodates a broader range of rider skills and ages.
Gateway to Three National Parks
Los Alamos is home to three National Park sites: Bandelier National Monument, the Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. According to the 2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects Report, every tax dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy due to visitor spending in gateway communities. As the gateway to these national treasures, the County is working with the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior to prepare for visitor growth in the area.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park site is one of the few National Parks that focuses on American science, technology and industry during World War II. The Los Alamos site is one of three non-contiguous park sites across the country that feature the structures associated with the research and production of the atomic bomb. These include: Oak Ridge, TN (uranium enrichment); Hanford, WA (plutonium production); and Los Alamos, NM (atomic bomb design and testing). In addition to the science, the park sites interpret the social and cultural life of the individuals and families that lived and worked in these “secret cities.” In Los Alamos, some of the most iconic symbols of the Manhattan Project are open to the public today.
Downtown Park Assets
Bradbury Science Museum is a window into LANL, including the history of the institution, its national security mission, and the broad range of exciting science and technology research happening today. This award-winning museum offers more than 40 interactive exhibits and two films within three galleries, providing a hands-on experience for learners of all ages.
Historic Fuller Lodge - This vertical-log and stone building has served as the social gathering place in the historic heart of Los Alamos for more than 80 years. Recent renovations have upgraded electrical systems, restored original features and expanded access in anticipation of the increased visitation to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
Ashley Pond Park has always been a central gathering place for residents and visitors alike. In 2013, the park underwent a $2.3 million renovation featuring a new performing arts stage that hosts regular performances throughout the summer months.
Los Alamos History Museum Campus - Built in 1918, the Los Alamos History Museum’s main building is located in the oldest continually occupied structure in town. Today, the museum serves as an award-winning, historical asset that presents the community’s world-changing history, through a variety of exhibits. The Hans Bethe House, originally built in 1931, is located on Bathtub Row, next door to the wartime home of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. The museum was recently renovated and restored with all-new and expanded exhibits and a restructured historical campus as part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
Los Alamos Creative Culture
Los Alamos’ world class creative culture was established within the first year of the Manhattan Project when the scientists, recruited from all over the world, brought their families and their love of music, opera, theater, dance and art to the town. Dr. Oppenheimer himself starred as the corpse in the Los Alamos Little Theater’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Working with the Los Alamos MainStreet, LLC and the State Tourism Department, the County produces programs, festivals and events that energize the downtown community, attracting visitors from the area assets to Los Alamos downtown attractions and businesses.
High Altitude Competitions
Whether it’s a high school swim meet or a qualifying triathlon for a national competition, sports events draw not only the athlete, but the friends and family who come to watch them. And all of them are in need of places to stay, places to eat and things to do during down time. Sports events generate revenue (gross receipts tax and Lodgers’ Tax), and provide the County an ideal opportunity to promote all of its assets. Several of the sports and recreation events that occur in Los Alamos have gained international recognition.
Summer Concert Series
From mid-May through August, the free Friday night concerts at Ashley Pond feature an eclectic mix of bands and music, providing a safe, relaxed, familyand dog-friendly venue for residents and visitors.
Pajarito Mountain Bikes, Bands & Beers Festivals
Nothing completes a day of skiing, boarding, biking, hiking—or even driving up to the base of Pajarito Mountain—than a lively band and a choice of craft beers from New Mexico’s best brewers. Beer and band events are held at the Pajarito Mountain Lodge throughout the year and are continuing to draw growing numbers from outside the Northern New Mexico region.