New Mexico’s 30 MainStreet communities support small businesses across a large and diverse state, but organizers admit it can be tough to explain exactly what the MainStreet program does and how it impacts local economies.
Four new videos aim to clarify the MainStreet message that business opportunities can be leveraged by the program.
Rich Williams, co-director of New Mexico MainStreet, which falls under the New Mexico Economic Development Department, said the program is more than a dollar value of ROI. “While we like to measure public dollars in return on investment or job creation, this leaves out the qualitative impact of building economically healthy communities,” he said.
Williams argues that social infrastructure is often overlooked, but it is the basis of community safety and economic well-being. The social opportunities that spur project development take place at libraries, community centers, parks and other public places, he said.
These are “the spaces that cut across age, race, ethnicity and gender, creating the context for social capital to be nurtured and community economic wealth to grow,” Williams said.
The four Voices of MainStreet videos are more like mini movies. Each is about three minutes long and they feature rural and urban entrepreneurs under the headings Engage People, Rebuild Places, Creative & Cultural Enterprises and MainStreet Entrepreneurs.
“This was a way to tell the MainStreet story from the people side, not the state program just describing a series of initiatives,” said Anna J. Blyth, communications and media specialist for New Mexico MainStreet. Blyth said the videos give voice to the people who live, work or visit the MainStreet districts. “Those who value them as places of connectivity and economic activity, and tying together some of how that happens,” she said.
Narrative Media of Santa Fe, which produced the videos, highlighted the people who are actively rebuilding streets, restoring buildings, and creating economic opportunities in traditional and historic downtown districts. The company also focused on efforts to shift consumer purchases from the internet to “buy local.”
Blyth said buy-local campaigns are as relevant today as they’ve ever been and they tie into the work of New Mexico MainStreet. “We understand that when we buy local, there are significant economic, job and environmental benefits,” she said.
And the numbers speak for themselves: About 75 percent of every $100 spent in a locally-owned business is recirculated in the community. Blyth said money spent close to home has three times the community impact because local businesses create local jobs and are more likely to contribute to charities in the community.
MainStreet communities take this to heart, especially during the holidays when consumers increase spending. Many businesses have embraced Small Business Saturday — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — by utilizing the buy-local toolkit and strategies offered by the MainStreet program.
Williams said it matters. “Our historic and traditional town centers reflect the cultural and economic roots of a community,” he said. “Restoration of the built environment not only roots each generation to community heritage and history, it opens the door for new commercial enterprises with local entrepreneurs and creatives seeking an opportunity to make a living within the community they choose to reside.”
To watch the videos and learn more about the MainStreet program, visit nmmainstreet.org.
Finance New Mexico connects individuals and businesses with skills and funding resources for their business or idea. To learn more, go to www.FinanceNewMexico.org.