RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Albuquerque will invest half a million dollars to promote businesses that line its stretch of historic Route 66.
City officials said Friday they’re looking for a marketing firm to develop a plan to promote the corridor as a destination.
The campaign would be aimed at bringing locals back to Central Avenue and attracting new visitors. Shop owners along the road had complained as years of construction related to Albuquerque Rapid Transit, or ART, hampered business and forced some stores to close.
Several Albuquerque city councilors announced this initiative nearly a year ago and had hoped to have already begun the marketing.
But Council President Pat Davis said the promotional effort “takes on more urgency” given the current situation.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the coronavirus public health emergency is now hitting boutiques, restaurants, bars and other businesses along the route. Most are locally owned.
“The businesses on Central need our support more than ever,” he said. “We are going to use this time to make sure that when we get through this challenge, people come back to Route 66. With this investment now, we hope to help prime our community for a comeback all up and down Central.”
Albuquerque is home to the longest urban stretch of Route 66. City officials say it’s a critical driver of small business and job creation. It includes some of Albuquerque’s most prominent arts and culture attractions.
Known as the “Mother Road,” Route 66 was created in 1926 after the Bureau of Public Roads launched the nation’s first federal highway system. Small towns opened shops, motels and gas stations to pump revenue into local economies just as the nation’s car culture took off.
The marketing firm that will be charged with breathing new life into the corridor will be required to work closely with businesses, property owners, neighborhood associations and community groups in the area.
Journal staff writer Jessica Dyer contributed to this report.