MainStreet responsible for results

By Robert Arrowsmith


Robert Arrowsmith

Robert Arrowsmith

An open letter to New Mexico MainStreet:

As much as I dislike saying this, you put yourself in this position. For those of you that do not know, this week the Legislature is recommending $250,000 less for the state MainStreet program; if passed, that will result in the elimination of key positions within the organization.

Recently, Matt Hunton, Jan Elliott and I were sitting with Eduardo Martinez of the state program discussing what needed to happen with the Portales MainStreet program when we were going over the promotional piece that MainStreet was going to have available for legislators. The headline of the piece in big print read “From 1985 to 2013.”


Based on my time of understanding the program, and the locations I have been to just in the past two years, I’m going to speculate that as many as 75 percent of the people in this country do not know what a MainStreet program is.

I myself had no idea what MainStreet was until Lisa Dunagan introduced me to the program in 2012.

When I tell my family I am the president of the MainStreet program, every single one of them has the same first question: What is MainStreet?

By highlighting your promotional piece with a timeline, you gave legislators a calculator. Every statistic that the remainder of the piece had on it was now taken by someone that does not know the good of the program, or does not understand the program and divided by 28 for what they felt was a good per year average.

Simple marketing. When you do not have the ability to speak directly to those that are empowered to determine the funding for your program, you have to highlight the total good of the program in such a way that the numbers stand for themselves. You cannot leave room in your message for someone that does not understand the program to draw the wrong conclusion.

And the easiest way for someone to draw the wrong conclusion is to give them a calculator, or a template to work from.

Two factors have come into play at the end of the year resulting in you being in the position you are in. The election and the rapid drop in oil prices have created a cutback mentality in the Legislature. Knowing that oil revenue is going to be about 40 cents on the dollar this year means social programs are going to be scrutinized. Republican involvement at a higher level is going to result in an increased thought process of privatization and return on investment on dollars spent.

I think the MainStreet program is a very good program. But you put yourself in this position by overestimating the perceived value of the program in the eyes of the public.

When looking at the numbers from Lisa initially, I was not that impressed at the overall good of the program. Because my first reaction was to take the numbers and take a calculator to them. It took a year of further understanding what the program did.

You set yourself up to be in this position, MainStreet. And you don’t have a year to convince the Legislature.

Robert Arrowsmith is publisher of Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: