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The president of National Main Street, an organization that funds and helps manage the revitalization and preservation of downtown districts across the country, recently paid a visit to Los Alamos. Los Alamos is a member of the organization.
Patrice Frey, who has been the organization’s president for six months, said she was on a national assessment tour of “Main Street” communities.
“I’m trying to reach out to as many Main Streets as I can and learn as much as I can about what’s going on in the field,” she said during a recent stop at the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.
She hopes to take what she’s learned from the tour and apply it on a national level.
She was also present at a press conference in Santa Fe that detailed the impact of National Main Street on New Mexican communities over the past 28 years.
While in Los Alamos, Frey toured Fuller Lodge, Ashley Pond, C.B. Fox Department store and the Bradbury Science Museum.
Other towns on her stop included Corrales and Santa Fe. In New Mexico, there are about 28 communities that belong and consult with National Main Street, which has a state office as well as branches in the communities it represents.
Though the tour was a brief one, Frey said it really highlighted Los Alamos’ economic uniqueness.
“It’s a different setup,” she said. “A lot of our downtown Main Street communities are traditional downtowns that were developed from say, the 1850s to the 20s and 30s. What you have here is obviously very different but very special. It’s actually a great example of how the Main Street approach can work in so many different ways. I think what you have all done here in combining your chamber of commerce your visitor’s center and your research space, that that’s a pretty efficient use of resources.”
She also found it special to be in a place that puts much emphasis on science and technology.
Main Street is a 501 (c) 3 organization that also lobbies in Washington D.C. on the behalf of the interests of small business. Founded in 1980, the organization is based in Chicago, and is a subsidiary of the National Trust For Historic Preservation.
While she said there’s not as much activity right now at the national level, Main Street is also involved in sustaining, preserving and protecting small business programs at the state level.
According to Suzette Fox, Los Alamos Main Street’s Executive Director, Main Street does much to help small business in New Mexico, whether it’s through funding or advisement.
“National Main Street works to help the state office and the state works to help the local communities,” she said during the visit, adding that people from Main Street often come out to help them with anything they may need help with, whether that’s something broad like economic development or something more specific, like how to build an effective Web site.
Frey also said that at the state level, one of their more popular services National Main Street performs is a five-year assessment.
“We take a look at how the (state) program is functioning and offer comments on what’s working well and we also make recommendations on opportunities for enhancement.”
Though the economic development conference she attended in Santa Fe won’t be released until this February, Main Street’s national office did release a summary that revealed some interesting findings on Main Street New Mexico’s impact on local communities.
According to the report, between 2007 and 2011, in New Mexico’s Main Street Districts, for every 100 businesses that opened, 37 closed. However, nationwide, for every 100 business that opened, 103 closed.
Since Main Street New Mexico was founded in 1986, Main Street communities have seen an net gain of 3,200 businesses and 11,300 new jobs.
For more information, visit nmmainstreet.org for more information.