City set for MainStreet test

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The city will be going through a test of sorts on Oct. 5.

It’s called the Start-Up Applicant Readiness Assessments.

It will be administered by four officials from New Mexico MainStreet which falls under the New Mexico Economic Development Department.

“We will be evaluating to see where the strengths and weaknesses are,” said Rich Williams, director of New Mexico MainStreet.

Williams and three others from his office, have scheduled a series of meetings that day from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They will meet with city officials, downtown business owners and property owners, business and economic development organizations and officials from financial institutions.

And at noon there will be a presentation about the MainStreet program that is open to the public.

Over the past several months, the city of Tucumcari and the Tucumcari Greater Economic Development Corp. (TGED) have both written to and expressed interest in having Tucumcari’s downtown accepted into the program, a part of of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“The chances are very good because the city has already met a number of thresholds,” Williams said, citing the city’s and the TGED’s interest and willingness to become involved.

Being designated a MainStreet project, however, is not a quick fix, Williams said.

“It takes years. It took 30 years for America’s downtowns to decline, it will take some years for them to come back up,” he said.

While there is no town too small or too poor that couldn’t benefit from the MainStreet concept, Williams said, the biggest hurdle is funding.

And New Mexico MainStreet doesn’t have funding per se, Williams said. “What we have is technical and professional services” for design, planning, grant writing, marketing and other expertise to get a project going, he said.

There are also ways that a city can get matching funds from a grant by providing in-kind services as well as cash matches, Williams said. Capital outlay programs, for example, have provided for downtown street lighting in Portales, he said.