Los Alamos National Laboratory Director and President of Triad National Security Dr. Thom Mason speaks Wednesday morning at the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Regional Development Corporation board chair Jennifer Jenkins speaks Wednesday morning at an RDC event at the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Karen Easton, Century Bank Vice President/Branch Manager, left, and Los Alamos County Economic Development Director Joanie Ahlers at Wednesday morning’s RDC event. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Los Alamos National Laboratory Staff Director Frances Chadwick, left, and University of New Mexico-Los Alamos CEO Cindy Rooney speak at Wednesday morning’s RDC event. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Phoebe Suina, owner and project manager of High Water Mark, LLC, speaks about her experience with assistance from the Regional Development Corporation. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Triad National Security, LLC announced on Wednesday in Santa Fe that it is giving a $500,000 grant to the Espanola-based economic development nonprofit Regional Development Corporation to inject capital through loans and a tribal diversity fund to small businesses across Northern New Mexico.
The announcement was made by Los Alamos National Laboratory director and president/CEO of Triad Thom Mason at the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) in Santa Fe, a non-profit research institute dedicated to improving human health and nutrition. NCGR president Calum Bell said his company provides software and resources for communities doing research and performs research itself.
“We’ve also been a very strong in education and workforce development – preparing students for careers in high-tech industries. We provide an internship for students in which we teach them the very latest in computational biology and have trained some 200 students over the last five years. Through other outreach activities we’ve also reach about 2,000 K though 12th grade students,” Bell said, adding that NCGR is committed to growing and retaining talent in New Mexico.
“It’s a great pleasure to welcome back our founding organization as NCGR was a spin-off from Los Alamos National Laboratory,” Bell said.
Mason said he was kind of wearing two hats for the event.
“My main job is director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Lab does a lot to stimulate economic development in Northern New Mexico. Some of you may have seen a couple of weeks ago, the University of New Mexico actually released a study on the economic impact of the Lab that talked about what happens when you assemble 12,000 of the brightest, most hard-working dedicated people, focus them on important national missions based on science and technology and there’s a direct economic impact associated with those jobs and the flow through the economy,” he said.
Mason said the Lab does other things in the form of workforce development and education both to meet our its own workforce needs and to the benefit the broader community.
“You’ve heard about how the facility we’re located in now represents a spin-off from the Lab and that’s actually another form of economic impact that we have as an institution. Some of that science and technology has a very broad application. You could argue that NCGR is part of probably the most substantial spin-out from Los Alamos in the modern era, certainly the role the Laboratory played in stimulating what became the human genome project,” he said. “Not that well appreciated but it actually didn’t start with the National Institute of Health, it started with the Department of Energy labs and Los Alamos was prominent among them”.
Mason said those are some of the different forms of substantial and enduring economic development that Los Alamos has but that the Lab recognizes that there are also some things that go beyond the Lab mission funded by DOE NNSA and other government entities.
“But for a truly vibrant economy in Northern New Mexico, we need a diversity of economic activity -businesses small and large – not all of them will be aligned with things we’re doing at Los Alamos, and that’s why as part of our Community Commitment Plan, Triad recognized this and included in our Community Commitment Plan is a commitment to work with RDC to foster economic development more broadly, including outside the direct Laboratory mission type of things that we do as part of our Los Alamos National Lab federally-funded research and development activities,” Mason said.
“We started thinking about this project during our transition last summer which began in July and recognized that RDC was the right partner to engage in this broader economic development activity, so I’m very pleased to announce a $500,000 investment in economic diversity in Northern New Mexico and support for RDC and its programs. It’s part of our focus on being a good neighbor in the region and part of our Community Commitment Plan, the philanthropic side of what we do as Triad working for more jobs and a better quality of life for everyone around us. The funding is going to boost the economic diversity in the seven-county region that we live in surrounding the Laboratory and I look forward to great things,” he said.
RDC chair Jennifer Jenkins said the Triad grant is auspicious for the RDC. She said the RDC was contacted by Triad when they were first awarded the LANL contract.
“They engaged with us really significantly very early on trying to understand the fabric of our Northern New Mexico economy, trying to understand what the RDC’s role has been in really supporting and creating a diverse economy in Northern New Mexico,” she said. “It’s nervous for people in our position. Like, what is this new entity going to be and what’s their position is going to be and how’s it going to go. And from day one, they were incredibly engaged and smart and incredibly willing to hear us but also brought a lot of really exciting new ideas to the table. It really challenged us to think outside our own box a little and about the way we can really have the broadest impact in our community.”
Val Alonzo, RDC executive director said the RDC’s goal is to diversify sustain and grow revenue for small businesses and leverage other investments.
“For job seekers that want to stay in the region, if we help the businesses they’ll be creating new jobs. The RDC provides information about other programs. If we’re working with a particular business we go out and find other opportunities to see how they could leverage them,” he said. “The funding from Triad will help is provide capital to businesses across Northern New Mexico, allowing them to grow, add job and contribute to the economy.
RDC works in seven counties; Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, Mora, Sandoval, San Miguel Taos and Santa Fe Counties as well as Pueblos located within those counties. In addition to Triad, current funders of the RDC include the City of Espanola, the City of Santa Fe, Los Alamos County, Santa Fe County and the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Calum Bell of the National Center for Genome Resources welcomes participants to the Regional Development Corporation event Wednesday morning in Santa Fe. Photo by Maire O’Neill/loslamosreporter.com
Regional Development Corporation executive director Val Alonzo speaks at Wednesday morning’s event. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
LANL director Dr. Thom Mason, left, and RDC board member Jack Jekowski chat at Wednesday’s RDC event in Santa Fe. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Regional Development Corporation board members and officials gather Wednesday with Los Alamos National Laboratory director Thom Mason, third from left, and Calum Bell, president of the National Center for Genome Resources, far left. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com