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SANTA FE, NM-Towns, villages and cities needing help with main street revitalization have a place to turn. Thanks to the state government, New Mexico MainStreet is around to help finance redevelopment of everything from downtown projects to small-town main streets.

“This revitalization is critical,” comments Rich Williams, director of the 23-year-old New Mexico MainStreet program, which is affiliated with the National Trust Main Street Center in Washington, DC. “Main streets are typically the commercial core for neighborhood centers. In rural communities it’s one of the economic generators. In larger cities, it can be one of many important economic generators.”

New Mexico MainStreet is funded through the state legislature which, in 2008, handed over $1 million to the program. During the past year, the money was split up among towns including Artesia, which is planning its new downtown municipal campus; Clayton, which is attempting to renovate Walnut Street, its main drag; Santa Rosa, which is designing a downtown master plan and Las Cruces, which is funneling the cash into Phase 2 of its mixed-use La Placitas design.

Williams tells GlobeSt.com that most of the agency’s work is with smaller towns, typically under 10,000 people, as well as village plazas in larger areas. What the agency doesn’t do is new town or new project developments. Nor does the agency give money directly to businesses for redevelopment. Instead, New Mexico Main Street helps set up 501-C non-profit organizations to bring in consultants that help with everything from design plans to finding contractors.

The agency also doesn’t accept every town or village that applies for funding. Williams says the application process takes place once a year, depending on funding. A typical year brings in 15 applicants that have to adhere to a specific program to be accepted for funding.

“We follow the National Trust Main Street Center four-point approach,” Williams says. “It involves blending four areas of design, organization, economic positioning and promotions together to help regenerate economic activity that may be deteriorating or stagnant.”

Given current economic times, Williams says he doesn’t believe NewMexico Main Street will be stagnant. “I think we’re one of the tools the state can use to continue stimulating economic development,” he comments. “We can continue to build and rebuild economic health during the recession.”

Furthermore, the agency can provide solid information to Main Street communities throughout the state. “We can provide information on how to get through an economic recession, how reposition vacant properties in such a situation and how to retool businesses,” Williams remarks. “We can help Main Street communities take the recession head on.”

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