Silver City MainStreet fosters economic development in Silver City, New Mexico’s historic downtown. The organization does this through collaboration and promotion of downtown events, improvements to and preservation of the historic district, and the development of new and creative uses for downtown buildings.
The program is a 2011 recipient of the Great American Main Street Award, a national award given to only three Main Street programs each year.
Silver City is in southwest New Mexico with a long-standing mining economy. However, the community is surrounded by 3.3 million acres of national forest, and at 6,000 feet, the Silver City climate is noted for its clear mountain air, low humidity and four gentle seasons. Temperatures are lower than many other parts of the Southwest.
Since 1985, Silver City MainStreet has completed numerous projects to improve the economic vitality of downtown Silver City, and downtown Silver City currently has more than 145 businesses bringing needed tax revenue to the town. Some of the projects include new sidewalks, park improvements, signage, downtown street lights, theater restoration, building facade improvements, median and streetscape improvements, building restoration, a visitor center, a downtown gateway arch, benches and trash receptacles throughout downtown, arts and culture designation, and a lighted Christmas parade.
The organization’s Executive Director, Charmeine Wait, recently shared with Rural Business HQ the history of the program, keys to creating a vibrant, small town main street, the affect tourism can have on a rural economy, and ways different facets of a community can collaborate to achieve common economic goals.
Wait is the only paid employee for Silver City Mainstreet, and the program relies on the support of the community and donated time from volunteers. Incentives, such as free movies at the restored downtown theater, are used to encourage people to volunteer.