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Sun, Feb. 23

<b>Main Street can extend its benefits to our entire town</b>

With a new Main Street manager in place, Williams as a whole is likely to benefit.

Donna Eastman Cochran, Williams Main Street program manager, is filled with infectious enthusiasm but, more importantly, the savvy to stage successful events.

Cochran held her first organizational meeting last week and is now soliciting Main Street board members.

And one sentiment that came through loudly and clearly is Main Street is good for the entire town.

Of course, it’s not hard to see how a program with a goal to stimulate the revitalization of Williams’ business district will benefit merchants.

But Main Street is far more encompassing than that. It entails a comprehensive economic development strategy which is designed to produce both increased levels of development as well as jobs. Another of its aspects is to preserve and enhance the Williams heritage, culture and quality of life.

Main Street objectives include comprehensive revitalization strategies that spell out how to go about the process from the inception of the program but also carry strategies that envision long term goals. Based on the four components of organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring, local citizens implement the plans, but state Main Street staff and consultants can be tapped for their expertise.

Glancing back in time, Main Street has a very good history in Williams since its 1991 inception. Many downtown facades have been revamped as a result of it. Two garnered 1997 Arizona Main Street awards — the Jackson Building on Railroad Avenue, which now houses Peak Confections, nailed Best Facade Renovation over $10,000 and Route 66 Magazine was named the New Main Street Business of the Year.

Linear Park, planned along Railroad Avenue, is likely to see great progress this year, and was spurred along by past Williams Main Street boards.

However, the boons of Main Street revitalization stretch far beyond a town’s commercial district. If business is booming in Williams' commercial areas, property owners throughout the town gain. For example, if property values go up 1 percent per annum, a property worth $100,000 can tack another $1,000 onto its valuation.

Tourism businesses citywide will benefit including hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers, service stations and anyone who would benefit from having more people visiting our town. Our downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and even now draws people to Williams. Improvements to it can only increase the draw.

Williams can have a quaint, thriving downtown in addition to Grand Canyon Railway, ponderosa pines, forest trails, fishing lakes, abundant wildlife, a pristine golf course and still tout itself as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Starting in May a host of events are planned to pull in visitors and entertain locals. A Fun Run is slated May 4, Rendezvous Days, May 26-28; HOG Rally, June 21-24; the Great Race (vintage cars), June 28; Williams 100th Anniversary, July 3; Small Town Fourth, July 4; the Cowpunchers Reunion Rodeo, Aug. 4-6; the Route 66 Festival, Aug. 18; Labor Day PRCA Rodeo, Sept. 1-3; GCRY 100th Anniversary, Sept. 15-17 and Mountain Village Holidays in December.

If Williams doesn't have a banner year in 2001, it won't be for lack of effort.

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