New Mexico MainStreet Celebrates 25 Years
By Stephanie Redman, New Mexico MainStreet | From Main Street Story of the Week | August 29, 2010 |
On August 14, 2010, New Mexico MainStreet capped the year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary with a symposium and awards gala. A morning symposium on “Local Living Economies: Thriving on MainStreet!” kicked off the day. In the keynote address, Judy Wicks, co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), discussed the principles of creating community self-reliance:
- linking community values, health, and happiness to local small business enterprises;
- taking responsibility for place; and
- building sustainable local food systems.
A six-member response panel of local, state, and national leaders considered these principles and found much that resonates between living economies and Main Street. The response panel and audience discussed ways to explore further living economies strategies to enhance Main Street initiatives. These included:
- boosting local investment in state and local access to capital programs;
- using living economies concepts to build collaborative partnerships;
- capitalizing on Main Street's natural role as a hub in regional food production and supply networks;
- forming a rural community grocery buyers club; and
- expanding the appeal of creative buy local campaigns.
(BALLE's annual conference will be held June 15-17, 2011, in Bellingham, Washington. For more information, visit www.livingeconomies.org.)
25 Years of Economic Success
Based on reporting from its local MainStreet organizations, New Mexico MainStreet has had a tremendous impact on the state’s economy, with local MainStreet districts accumulating.
These statistics have more than doubled since 2000 in nearly every single category of economic impact measured by NMMS.
After the panel, 250 people gathered to celebrate New Mexico MainStreet’s anniversary during a gala dinner and awards ceremony. Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish praised the program’s achievements and looked forward to the future.
“This event is more than looking back and celebrating 25 years of revitalizing our New Mexico towns and villages and restoring vibrancy to Main Street. It is a time to strengthen our partnerships, take stock of the power of our combined resources, and direct them through this successful MainStreet community development program,” said Denish. “We need to build an … all-encompassing vision for New Mexico’s rural communities and look for a new development renaissance for our urban neighborhoods. MainStreet is a … proven vehicle to build a better quality of life for New Mexico’s residents and visitors today and in the future.”
U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third Congressional District also praised the program and its role in helping to support small business. Messages of congratulations and support were conveyed by the staff of U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, as well as U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich’s staff.
A VIP lineup of Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Fred Mondragon, USDA New Mexico Rural Development Office Director Terry Brunner, National Trust Advisors Theresa Pasqual and Ernesto Ortega, National Trust Main Street Center Director Doug Loescher, and National Trust Southwest Office Director Jonathan Poston presented the awards. Five anniversary awards and small cash prizes were presented to local MainStreet organizations that have achieved outstanding results and overall excellence in their revitalization efforts. Awards for overall excellence in Design, Organization, Promotion, and Economic Positioning were distributed, accompanied by $500 prizes. The Silver Star Award recognized best overall comprehensive achievement in downtown revitalization and included a prize of $1,500. The awards ceremony also recognized program partners, sponsors, local presidents and staff, and past directors of New Mexico MainStreet (NMMS).
Along with New Mexico MainStreet’s 25th Anniversary Awards, the Friends of New Mexico MainStreet presented five Centennial Legacy Project Awards during the gala. The Friends raised and awarded $80,000 of private funds to provide matching grants for legacy capital projects that will link local MainStreet districts to the future and commemorate New Mexico’s statehood centennial. The projects are to be completed by June 1, 2012. Friends’ President Peyton Yates presented first-place awards of $20,000 to Clovis MainStreet for relocation of historic Locomotive 9005 to the downtown railroad district and museum, to the Las Cruces Downtown Partnership for construction of La Placita (a downtown gateway events plaza), and to the Silver City MainStreet Project for installation of interpretive history signs in its historic downtown Big Ditch Park. Second-place awards of $10,000 went to Artesia MainStreet for construction of a downtown Veterans’ Memorial Park and to MainStreet Las Vegas for installation of downtown directional signs.
New Mexico MainStreet 25th Anniversary Award Winners
When asked to comment on New Mexico MainStreet’s longevity, Director Rich Williams noted that the success of the program comes from many different factors. “First and foremost,” said Williams, “our local leadership has pursued MainStreet with great dedication and determination, resulting in some phenomenal projects like downtown streetscapes, theater rehabilitations, art installations, business and entrepreneurial development, and events that reflect New Mexico’s unique culture and heritage. Over the years, the executive branch and the state legislature have been very supportive of the program, which is one of the state’s strongest community economic development programs. We’ve also had terrific leadership at the state level through eight different directors and expert field specialists. The teamwork and collaboration of our state staff and contract program associates contribute to our highly collaborative approach to providing technical assistance.”
Williams also credited New Mexico MainStreet’s success to its cultivation of strong partnerships and ability to anticipate state trends. “I think at each phase of its growth, New Mexico MainStreet has succeeded because it has looked forward,” said Williams. “We’ve constantly tried to anticipate the economic and social trends that hit the state, and we’ve tried to develop and provide services that help our participating communities meet those challenges in a meaningful way. We’ve cultivated good partnerships with other state and federal agencies like the University of New Mexico and the USDA Rural Development Office, and that’s also brought a whole other set of resources to our communities. Plus, unlike a lot of state Main Street organizations, we have incredible private-sector partners in the Friends of New Mexico MainStreet charitable organization and the New Mexico Coalition of MainStreet Communities, which is an active lobbying association. Both of these groups have helped keep our program strong with, respectively, funding for additional education and services and advocating elected officials to support MainStreet in New Mexico. “
New Mexico MainStreet is a program of the New Mexico Economic Development Department. For more information, visit www.edd.state.nm.us/mainStreet/intro/index.html or call 505-827-0168.