ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Los Alamos National Lab employees met Thursday to discuss impending furloughs scheduled to start at the end of business Oct. 18.
While several thousand families will be left to figure out their finances, local businesses are bracing for the effects to trickle down.
“I had a friend describe it, saying it almost feels like the community has been fired all at once because we're very much a laboratory community,” said Ruby Alexander.
Not only does Alexander have friends and family working at the lab, but her business downtown, Ruby K's Bagel Café, is often crowded with lab employees and their families.
That might not be the case if furloughs go into effect.
“There is a feeling in the air today that's a little bit more dismal than it was a week or so ago,” she said.
Los Alamos County has almost 18,000 residents. Many of those people are employed by LANL.
The lab’s pending shutdown comes at an especially difficult time.
This time of year, the downtown area depends heavily on Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta visitors here to see sights like the Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve, both closed because of the shutdown.
“We had a whole agenda that we had all mapped out that we were going to do and unfortunately are not able to do,” said Sally Rueter, in town from Arizona. “It's a bit disappointing and aggravating.”
The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce said the White Rock Visitor Center near Bandelier has seen a 90 percent drop in visitors from 400 a day during a typical Balloon Fiesta to barely 40 a day this year.
Alexander said the Bradbury Science Museum that LANL runs, just down the street from Ruby K's, has helped attract some tourists. But even that is set to close once furloughs go into effect.
Thursday’s LANL meeting was closed to the media.
A LANL spokesperson would not say exactly how many lab workers will be furloughed if the federal shutdown continues.
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