Archive for July, 2011

The prospect of a nurses strike at Christus St Vincent Hospital has emotions running high among some in the community. We are hearing a lot of simple-minded commentary about how we “deserve” good nurses, how the organization runs like a business and how things “used to be”.
It’s time to take a more objective and businesslike view of the hospital and its role in Santa Fe.
The world of healthcare is changing. New technologies, management systems, government mandates, insurance and privacy requirements, required staffing levels, patient care procedures, competition from private and regional hospitals, a rising uninsured population, rising costs and “healthcare reform”. These are enormously complex issues

Christus St Vincent Hospital plays a critically important role in our community. As the major provider of healthcare, as a reliable community partner and as the largest private provider of jobs in the area, Christus St Vincent Hospital is responsible for the heath and economic well-being of thousands of Santa Feans.
In order to expand to fill the needs of a growing population of course the hospital has to make money. This is a good thing. How else can we expect expanded and improved services if the hospital is not able to make money in order to reinvest in first-class facilities and staff.
From an economic point of view heath care is a bright spot. It is forecast to grow in Santa Fe and create many jobs for the future. But in order to grow we have to leave the past behind and focu

s on a new way of providing heath care using the latest methods and systems.
Negotiators on both sides of the labor dispute should focus on what Santa Fe needs. Reliable, convenient, affordable health care and well-paying jobs for working Santa Feans.

Recently a newspaper article about the threatened nurses’ strike contained the quote “Santa Fe is a Union Town”. This gave me food for thought. The reality is somewhat different. The argument can be made that we are a “government town” with fully 40% of the local workforce being employed by local, state or federal government agencies. And it is true that some staff of some government departments are unionized.

However when we look at the private sector only two of the top fifty major employers in Santa Fe are union shops. Furthermore with over 3000 businesses in Santa Fe County only a handful have any union workers at all.

The reality is that Santa Fe is a small business town. We have our share of national retailers but the vast majority of Santa Fe businesses are independent and many are family–owned.

The tourism industry is our largest non-government business sector with no union employees at all. Small business wants the freedom to operate with as little interference as possible whether from government or organized labor. We must support our independent entrepreneurs in their efforts to be successful and create jobs. Government depends upon taxes generated by the private sector.
Let’s make Santa Fe a Business Town with opportunities for all to work, raise a family and be successful. 150 marchers on a Sunday do not a union town make.

As local residents are no doubt aware, Phase 3 of the Cerrillos Road reconstruction project is currently under way and having a major effect on the businesses in the area.
It is easy to drive straight through or take alternative routes but in fact all the businesses in the area are open and are anxious for your business. Take a few extra minutes to Shop Cerrillos Road and support these local businesses that are facing this challenge at the busiest time of year. In fact many of the businesses are having Orange Barrel sales and this is a great time to find bargains and parking spaces!
Local businesses create jobs for local people and taxes that support our civic amenities – shop on Cerrillos Road and help support your community.

We have reason to celebrate this month as the Chamber’s successful advocacy effort has restored weekend service of the Railrunner between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

By collaborating with elected officials, business organizations and other chambers the Santa Fe Chamber has persuaded the Metro Board to reverse their decision to cancel weekend service. We are pleased to have worked closely with our regional partners and we believe our successful effort will have a direct effect on the bottom line of many Santa Fe businesses.

If you are not currently an investor in the Chamber we encourage you to give the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce a chance to show how valuable we can be to you as a partner. Through this kind of advocacy, networking and business support we are here to help create a stronger local economy and to help our members create jobs for Santa Feans.

Please help if you can. We invite all businesses who operate in Santa Fe to join our efforts and become members. We are here to serve and assist. Go to www.santafechamber.com, email me at simon@santafechamber.com or call 988-3279 to learn how chamber membership already benefits over 900 local businesses.

Santa Fe – Leadership Santa Fe’s ‘Class of 2012’ is open to applicants. The 2011-12 program begins in the fall. Interested applicants should go to www.leadershipsantafe.org to apply today. David Markwardt, Leadership Development Facilitator, will team up with Lucy River, Program Director, to host the nine month curriculum, which falls under the banner of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. Together with a class of twenty-five community leaders, they will examine issues of economic development, health, government, non-profits, and youth & education, and meet with over fifty prominent local policy and decision makers.

“I can honestly say it has been one of the richest experiences of my life. Finding time for the Leadership Santa Fe program allowed me to discover that one can always make time for self-reflection, self-improvement and commitment to something larger,” said Jackie Hall, Director of Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy.

We are so proud of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry – who received a Chamber’s Bootstrap Award in 1998!

www.krqe.com

Leroy Petry’s heroic destiny was not always clear.

Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce – Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce

Rail Runner Position Paper

Background

In 2003 the New Mexico legislature and the Governor passed a $1.4 billion dollar transportation package called GRIP which was to be funded primarily by bonds. Over 1 billion dollars in the package was for roads that benefited cities throughout the state and $450 million was for capital to build the commuter rail component subsequently called the Rail Runner. The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce supported the GRIP package and most of the recommended financing mechanisms recommended at the time.  The Regional Transit District (RTD’s), the legislature and the office of the Governor negotiated and reached a verbal agreement on how the operations of the commuter rail would be funded.  It was verbally agreed by all parties that 75% of the operations for the commuter rail component would be funded from the four governments (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, Santa Fe County) through the RTD’s by a required election that would propose a 1/8 cent GRT tax. Additionally, and because it was a state-initiated project, 25% was committed for operations from the state as a part of the agreement.   A vote of the people in the four counties occurred in an election held in 2008.  The issue was passed by a majority of the people for both the commuter rail project and for the tax to fund it.

The election secured the RTD’s commitment for 75% of operations funding, but the 25% (or about $6 million) of state funding was never permanently secured.  The state’s commitment was instead funded by federal funds.  The lack of a permanent funding mechanism  at the state level and  to some extent, the poor economy has created the operations deficit problem for the Rail Runner. In an attempt to cut costs in the short term, the Rio Metro RTD voted on a 6-5 vote to end weekend service beginning mid-August. However, for the long term, the Rail Runner is facing a $1.2 million dollar operations deficit in FY 2012. The state is obligated to pay the $450 million over the next 16 years regardless of whether the Rail Runner is operational or not, as well as  the bond obligation payments for the larger road projects which was included in the GRIP package.  The state must currently use the federal dollars it receives to pay off the bonds which leaves few resources to maintain and expand roads in New Mexico.  Finally, unlike many other states, New Mexico does not have a long-term sustainable transportation fund dedicated to transportation systems which further aggravates the present problem.

Board Position

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce believe that a comprehensive transportation system is an economic development necessity. A comprehensive transportation system which efficiently moves both people and product is essential to creating a vibrant and competitive city and state. The Chambers have conducted several benchmarking trips to cities which have been successful at creating a comprehensive transportation system. All of those systems combine roads, commuter rail, light rail and bus systems in a synchronized plan which is designed to efficiently move people and product. None of those systems, roads included, can operate self sufficiently; all transportation systems need financial support from the people in the form of taxation, fares and in some places, toll charges.

The decision to end weekend service by the Rio Metro RTD , while bringing  the issue to a head, was nonetheless surprising and, we believe premature.  The Governor’s office should have been consulted and been a part of the debate at some level prior to any action being taken on a project which from the beginning has been a partnership between the local governments and the state.

The decision by the previous administration to use federal stimulus dollars and decline- for 4 years- to identify a permanent funding source ($6 million) to fulfill the state’s commitment was a mistake.

The Chambers urge all parties back to the table to creatively solve the dilemma. The investment has been made for the Rail Runner (and all other GRIP projects); the debt for it is still an obligation and tax revenue from the election result continues to come in for the project. We should not nickel and dime this project but solutions should recognize the problems, including, mistakes of the past. In the short run, questions like: How can we make this better? More  effective? More fair? … should  be answered. And then, the bigger problem should be solved – by all of us – how New Mexico can join the many other states who recognize transportation (roads and transit) as an important economic development tool and have created a long-term sustainable fund to pay for it.