Los Lunas working on tourism plan to capitalize on booming commerce

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A New Mexico town wants you to do more than just pass through. They want you to stay and explore all it has to offer.

The Village of Los Lunas is hoping to do that through a new tourism campaign.

“People who hadn’t heard of Los Lunas are starting to figure out we’re here,” said Christina Ainsworth, Village of Los Lunas Community Development Director.

They can thank a Facebook Data Center in part for that. It’s not only put them on the map but expected to bring in hundreds of jobs.

“We’ve already seen the impact that Facebook has had on our community. We’ve had a lot more restaurants coming in here. There’s definitely more traffic. There are people moving into our community. There are businesses more interested in coming in and people. There’s just more energy, more of a desire for different facilities, events and activities,” said Ainsworth.

Which means more people are likely to pay the small village a visit.

With all these opportunities on the horizon, they’re hoping to get away from being known just for agriculture, but also its booming commerce.

“We want to capitalize on the opportunities that are coming into the village at this point,” said Ainsworth.

To do that, they’re now working on a strategic tourism plan. It’s called “Los Lunas-Roads Less Traveled.”

It was created with the belief that tourism will improve the quality of life for visitors and residents.

“We are looking at not just cultural activities but also outdoor recreation and also potentially creating signature events,” said Ainsworth.

Village officials say in order for this to be successful, they need buy-in from everybody. Officials are taking a grassroots approach by developing tools to turn residents and businesses into ambassadors.

“Really anyone can be an ambassador. You just have to love your community and embrace people who come here,” said Ainsworth.

This movement is something local businesses and museums KRQE News 13 spoke with say they believe is a step in the right direction.

“Very long time coming. I know they’ve been working hard on trying to get a lot of newer businesses to come down here,” said Teri Leahigh, owner of Teri’s Sweet Garden.

Leahigh says in the seven years that they’ve been open, this has been the busiest year so far.

She says she’s noticing a lot more traffic down Main Street as well.

As for the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts, museum technician Jan Micaletti, says this will be great for getting the word out about what the museum has to offer.

“There’s so many people here in Los Lunas that don’t know we exist. We’re really excited about Los Lunas growing. We know there are so many things that need to be done and will be done,” said Micaletti.

Village officials are looking to capitalize on attractions like the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts, the Luna Mansion, Tome Hill and Tome Art Gallery, El Cerro de Los Lunas and the River Walk.

They’re also using a $50,000 grant to design a Route 66 Museum and Visitors Center, that they hope will give visitors another reason to stop by.

Ainsworth says the design process will probably take a year. During that time, they will be looking for funding for physical changes to the property.

“It will be right on Main Street next to historic Luna Mansion and will serve as an anchor for these activities,” said Ainsworth.

They’re kicking off the process in July, starting with the ambassador program.

Officials say this tourism plan is essentially the sub-brand of an entire re-branding process started several years ago, called “Small community. Big Possibilities.” They add that it pre-dates Facebook.

Over the next few months and toward the end of the year, people will start to see the village’s tourism materials and efforts.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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