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MainStreet makes the grade

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Chamber: Local program recognized nationally for its work

By Carol A. Clark

In recognition of its commercial district revitalization efforts, the Los Alamos MainStreet program has earned national accreditation by meeting the performance standards set by the National Trust MainStreet Center.

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“Being recognized on a national level makes of feel very proud and it lets the community know that we are working hard to revitalize downtown Los Alamos and everything that encompasses,” said Los Alamos MainStreet Manager Suzette Fox. “Our goal for this program is to support a vibrant downtown through events, promotions, participation and planning and design projects and through our business assistance activities.”

Member Services Coordinator Katy Korkos of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce explained that the national accreditation shines a spotlight on “all of the positive contributions” the local program is providing for the community.

“Our MainStreet program coordinates so many of the local events that we all love such as Trick or Treat on MainStreet, the WinterFest Light Parade and the Next Big Idea, which takes place downtown this weekend,” Korkos said. “The program also provides things like the Central Avenue streetscaping project. MainStreet gave the county $100,000 to complete that project and the money to do so would not have been available if we did not have the local MainStreet program.”

The annual accreditation process evaluates commercial district revitalization programs across the country based on criteria ranging from maintaining an active board of directors and professional manager to tracking economic progress and preserving historic MainStreet buildings.  

The National Trust MainStreet Center and its coordinating MainStreet program partners developed the National Accreditation Standards of Performance. They are based on operational performance for a sustainable organization, rather than economic performance and include:
•Broad-based community support for the commercial district revitalization process, with strong support from public and private sectors  
•Has developed vision and mission statements relevant to community conditions and to the local MainStreet program’s organizational stage
•Has a comprehensive MainStreet work plan  
•Possesses a historic preservation ethic  
•Has an active board of directors and committees  
•Has an adequate operating budget  
•Has a paid professional program manager  
•Conducts a program of ongoing training for staff and volunteers  
•Reports key statistics  
•Is a current member of the National Trust Main Street Network

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela, whose department houses the New Mexico MainStreet program, noted the MainStreet projects around the state.

“Here in New Mexico we have a committed group of individuals who understand the importance of historic preservation and its impact on economic growth, especially in downtown districts, and have upheld strict guidelines and standards in managing their programs,” he said. “They have accomplished great things by improving their communities while being good stewards of public and private funding.”  

The national accreditation means the local MainStreet programs are meeting our national standards of performance for what a MainStreet program should be doing, said Doug Loescher, director of the National Trust Main Street Center.

“The organizations we name each year as National MainStreet Programs are those that have demonstrated the skills and comprehensive perspective needed to succeed in Main Street revitalization,” Loescher said.
Only 11 MainStreet programs in New Mexico received national accreditation this year including Los Alamos, Artesia, Clovis, Corrales, Grants, Hobbs, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership, MainStreet de Las Vegas, Nob Hill MainStreet, Silver City and Tucumcari.