The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce supports the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association and the Santa Fe Association of Realtors in their opposition to raising impact fees on new residential construction. The Chamber recognizes that hundreds of local contractors were severely impacted by the recent recession and we have seen little sign of significant recovery in the construction sector. We believe that the City should be incentivizing job creation for local contractors, not adding additional burden and expense to the cost of new housing. The Chamber urges the City Council to amend the proposed ordinance to remove any language eliminating the 50% reduction on residential development impact fees.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM

Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, 1644 St. Michael’s Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Hors d’oeuvres will be provided

RSVP at the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce website or call 988-3279

We need YOU to help us achieve our goal of reaching every 8th grade student in Santa Fe and give them the opportunity to reach her or his highest potential!

The High School graduation rate in Santa Fe is approximately 60 percent. This is a startling fact: but by helping kids to make better choices earlier on, together we can rewrite this statistic.

In order to meet this challenge, we need 20+ volunteers, so please join us for this special event and invite your colleagues.

CHOICES is an easy-to-learn, organized interactive program that you present to 8th graders using your knowledge and real-world experience. Your time commitment would consist of only 2-4 hours throughout the entire school year (September 2014 – June 2015). Presentations are given during the school day in two 1-hour shifts, over the course of two days.

No one can argue with the impact of the CHOICES Program, with powerful responses like the following from the previous year’s students: “I learned about the importance of choices I would make in high school and college and important times in my life.”

What does self-discipline mean to you? “That it’s your choice to be what you want to be.”

And from a CHOICES Presenter:  “Why do I do CHOICES? Easy answer. It is because I care. For various supporting reasons, I truly care about making a difference in the lives of my community’s youth. Even if only 1 student makes the connection, I know that a future has been brightened and our community will be better for it. It is really just about giving and paying towards a better future.”

For more information about the CHOICES program, please visit their website: http://www.choices.org/

For additional information about this exciting event, please contact:

David Sidebottom                                            Kathy L. Jahner
Century Bank Phone 505-995-1251                 Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce Phone 505-919-9698
David.Sidebottom@centurybnk.com               Kathy@santafechamber.com

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe Professional Business Women and the City of Santa Fe are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Santa Fe Business Awards. The awards were presented at the Chamber’s Red Carpet Business Awards Gala at CCA on June 12 to honor business excellence in Santa Fe.

Over 80 local businesses were nominated this year. Judging criteria included: business growth, customer service, green and family friendly business practices and community involvement. Seven awards were presented, including the three Century Bank Business Excellence Awards, the City of Santa Fe Small Business of the Year Award,Family Friendly Business of the Year Award, the Santa Fe Community College Green Business of the Year Award and a new award – Woman-Owned Business of the Year.

The winners are as follows:

Century Bank Business Excellence Awards

1-4 Employees – Eldorado Audiology

5-20 Employees – Cisneros Design Inc.

21 + Employees – Nurses With Heart

 

City of Santa Fe Small Business of the Year – Mindshare Studios

Santa Fe Community College Green Business of the Year – Ravens Ridge Bed and Breakfast

City of Santa Fe Family Friendly Business of the Year – Glorieta Creek Mechanical

Woman-Owned Business of the Year – The Santa Fe New Mexican

The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce believes that rewarding businesses for outstanding business practices and leadership is important. These businesses serve as examples to the rest of the community and set the bar for business excellence in Santa Fe.

“We are very proud of the winners and indeed all the nominees” said Chamber president and CEO Simon Brackley. “The local business climate is not easy and we are excited that so many entrepreneurs are succeeding and doing so with excellent business practices.”

Judges for the awards are representatives from the partner organizations and last year’s winners.

About four years ago I wrote the following opinion piece asking for more humane treatment of day laborers and the return of De Vargas Park to its intended use. Since then the situation has worsened. A decline in construction jobs, unlicensed serving of unapproved food products, increased use of Workforce Solutions resources and an increase in those who prey on the unfortunate have made the Park almost unusable by the general public and those who want to walk from the Railyard to the Plaza area.

A Vision for De Vargas Park

De Vargas Park has traditionally been a gathering place for day laborers who are seeking work, mostly in the landscaping and construction industries. The workers gather in front of the Dept. of Workforce Solutions even though the State of New Mexico has no official role in the day laborer program. The laborers provide a valuable service and show an admirable willingness to work hard in tough conditions.

In a thriving economy most of the workers managed to find employment. However in a difficult business climate the demand for day help has declined significantly and each day many workers are left hopeful but jobless.

As the number of non-working laborers has increased we have seen increased trash, drug, alcohol and harassment incidents in the Park area.

I have recently received three letters from individuals complaining that they cannot access the services provided by the Dept. of Workforce Solutions because of sidewalks being blocked and harassment. I have also heard of incidents of urination and vandalism on the grounds of the Santuario de Guadalupe.

De Vargas Park is located in a highly visible area of the city. With the Rail Runner bringing increased pedestrian traffic from the Railyard to downtown, visitors have to negotiate the Santa Fe River, the skate park and dozens of laborers. The port-a-pottie clearly does not fit the historic design requirements and is an embarrassment in a historic area.

A new vision is needed.

Contractors most often start their workdays at Home Depot, Lowe’s or another building supplier. If the day worker program was relocated to the same area, less travel would be needed. A small lot fitted with turn around parking, port-a-potties, drinking water, trash containers and shelter against inclement weather could fill the demand much more comfortably, safely and efficiently for all involved.

De Vargas Park should become a welcoming area with vendors carts offering ice cream, coffee and sandwiches. These licensed start-up businesses could have carts and umbrellas and be an attractive feature for downtown workers and visitors seeking lunch in the park.

In Santa Fe we are very attached to the way things have always been. But the old way is not always the best way. The only thing that is constant is change. Let’s come together and find a solution to the De Vargas Park situation that meets everyone’s needs and benefits our whole community.

The Chamber urges the City of Santa Fe to take immediate action to return the Park to a public gathering place and guarantee access to Workforce Solutions employment services.

 

Simon Brackley

President and CEO

Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce

Once again the fabulous Bandstand music series is about to begin on the Plaza. This year there will be even more shows and varieties of music represented, and there will be a few additional events on San Isidro Plaza on Zafarano to better serve Southside residents.

The Bandstand crew do a fabulous job of presenting over 80 shows in all weathers to all kinds of audiences, and many of our visitors enjoy the community celebration that is a Bandstand show.

But the series does not just happen. It requires hours of work by City staff, Bandstand staff, volunteers and other professionals. This effort only happens because of the support, contributions and sponsorship of the City and local businesses. Without this support the series would simply not happen.

You can show your appreciation by shopping at downtown businesses and returning the favor to those who step up each year to make Bandstand happen. Your purchases also generate gross receipts taxes that help the City.

Buy a burger or an ice cream, or a beer or a coffee. Buy gifts for yourselves and others. Share a dessert, enjoy a frito pie, purchase a gift card and support the local businesses who help make the Plaza such a treasure for us all.

A group of thirty local CEO’s and business leaders met in April to share ideas and thoughts as to how the Chamber can most effectively pursue its mission to Grow the Local Economy and Serve as the Voice of Business.

Attendees included: Mike Loftin of Homewise, Paul Margetson of Hotel Santa Fe, Brian Byrnes of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Bruce Tassin of Christus St Vincent, Dr Joel Boyd Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, Kathy Keith of the Regional Development Corp. and Bill Sisneros of El Gancho as well as twenty Chamber Board members.

The focus of the conversation was jobs and how the Chamber can collaborate in the community. The following day the Board met for six hours to discuss the Plan of Work for FY 2014-15 and talked about issues such as infrastructure, workforce development, community development and internal communications.

The feedback from the leaders was extremely helpful and Chair of the Board Chip Chippeaux commented “It was very useful to hear from such a wide range of leaders about their challenges and how the Chamber can better advocate for community improvement and job creation.”

Chamber staff is actively designing the Plan of Work which will be available in the next few weeks. Members are invited to participate and weigh in on the issues that most affect their businesses.

Leadership Santa Fe is a successful and prestigious program designed for motivated individuals who wish to learn more about the challenges facing Santa Fe and engage in the process of improving the community. The program combines interactive leadership skills training with an informative civic awareness curriculum over six weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) from October 2014 through April 2015.

This year we are adding a Graduate Program focusing attention on systems thinking, addressing community needs, and small group project skills, and a new Youth Program designed to meet Santa Fe’s need for young community leaders; teaching citizenship, job and college preparedness, and civic engagement. The program aims to enhance youth leadership resources for the community of Santa Fe. Youth Leadership Santa Fe will accomplish this by giving civic-minded youth a vehicle for their community-oriented energies, and providing access to community leaders and policy makers.

You can participate by joining one of the programs or by donating or sponsoring a student. There are program details and more information available at www.leadershipsantafe.org or info@leadershipsantafe.org

 

Santa Fe, NM – The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce is hosting four educational seminars on the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) on September 26th and October 23rd. Two seminars will be held each day – small businesses, under 50 employees at 9am and large businesses, 50 or more employees at 1:30pm.

The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce has partnered with NMHIX in an effort to help outreach and educate all residents of Santa Fe on new options for healthcare coverage. This event is one of many that will be happening, now through the end of the year, to ensure that important information reaches all areas of the state and that all small businesses and individuals have an open forum to ask questions, understand options and learn about additional tools and resources to help them with new affordable coverage options.

WHO:                  Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce / New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX)

WHAT:                New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) Outreach and Education Seminars

WHEN:                September 26th and October 23rd, 9am (small businesses, under 50 employees) and 1:30pm (large businesses, 50 or more employees) each day

WHERE:              Hotel Santa Fe, 1501 Paseo de Peralta

REGISTRATION:  www.santafechamber.com or 988-3279

NO CHARGE TO ATTEND

CONTACT:          Simon Brackley

About New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange

New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) was created to help individuals and small businesses get access to affordable health insurance plans. NMHIX will also help consumers compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. NMHIX will help individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance and if so, at what level.  Through SHOP, small businesses will be able to purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans.  Individuals and small businesses can start enrolling in NMHIX plans October 1, 2013 with coverage effective starting January 1, 2014.  Health Care Guides and brokers/agents are available throughout the state to help with signing up for NMHIX coverage.

For more information on NMHIX, please visit www.NMHIX.com

Education Secretary Hanna Skandera met with members of the Chamber Board in August and gave an update on education priorities at the state level.

Intervention Before Retention

The goal of this initiative is to ensure that all students are reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade and prepared to learn.  This initiative ensures that all students, parents and teachers are given the tools necessary (early assessments and targeted interventions) to succeed in reading:

Supporting Struggling Schools & Rewarding Excellence

School grades were designed to identify and help struggling schools while highlighting successful schools. This system measures individual student growth over a three year period and the calculation model accounts for circumstances unique to each school. Graduation rates, and their improvement over time, are also factors.  By offering support to our struggling schools and rewarding schools that closing the achievement gap for their students, we are honoring our commitment to real accountability to achieve real results.

Rewarding and Championing Effective Teachers and Principals

Proposed legislation would align teacher advancement pathways within the three tier system to be based on effectiveness. Right now, advancement is based only on years of service and credentials, conflicting with New Mexico’s new evaluation system. Ensuring the two systems are aligned will not only better equip teachers for success, but also positively impact student achievement. Under the current binary evaluation system, a teacher either “meets competency” or does not and over 98% of teachers in New Mexico “meet competency”. This is not commensurate with our student achievement data. Studies have shown dramatic strides in closing the achievement gap when students are taught by highly effective teachers.

Above the Line vs. Below the Line

43% of the state’s budget goes to K-12 education and New Mexicans deserve to see a better return on their investment. The goal is to invest taxpayer dollars “below the line” on proven reforms that will yield measurable results for spending accountability.

 

 

 

In the past few months the Santa Fe City Council and other City committees have spent hours discussing topics such as gun control, same sex marriage, grocery bag bans, cell phone towers, marijuana use, global warming and fireworks impacts on pets.

Arguably, any decisions the Council makes have little or no impact on these issues. They are nice PR, show that we care, and achieve absolutely nothing for the average Santa Fe resident.

Meanwhile down here in the real world of messy local government we read this in the recent local media:

“Among U.S. cities with high pension costs, Moody’s notes that Santa Fe, New Mexico, has net pension liabilities equal to six times its operating revenue, worse than any other city.”

And this: “Santa Fe has more than $7 million in unpaid parking tickets on its books and another $4 million in unpaid utility bills. All together, city hall is looking to collect a total of some $14 million in unpaid bills.”

And this: “The Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Commission unanimously approved a motion recommending that an independent audit of the 2008 parks and trails bond be conducted to determine: Were all bond monies spent specifically to improve parks and trails per the bond language? And how much of the bond monies were spent on city staff salaries?”

And this: “The City’s “questionable purchase” of a $500,000 data backup system that isn’t being used and appears to be nonfunctional.”

And this: ““Eleven city managers for the last three mayors is dysfunctional and a disservice to the citizens of Santa Fe,””

Clearly answers are needed. Local businesspeople are very concerned about these headlines and what the consequences are for our fiscal stability and reputation. Can we be sure that our tax monies are being spent in a prudent manner with appropriate oversight? Local residents and media should be paying attention to issues over which we can have some control and not be distracted by issues over which we have no control.

It is already election season with only 30 weeks left to campaign for mayoral and council seats. There are at least fifteen candidates who have already declared or rumored to be interested in running for local office. Ten of the fifteen have held public office before. Let’s all pay attention to their positions and experience. As voters we deserve leadership that focuses on efficient government and accountability.