About the Kentucky Main Street Program
The economic decline witnessed by many of Kentucky's central business districts over the past 30 years, threatened the many architecturally and historically significant buildings in these downtowns. Based on the need to preserve not only the buildings, but also the economic vitality of a community's downtown, the Kentucky Heritage Council developed the Kentucky Main Street Program to assist communities with revitalization efforts.
The Kentucky Main Street Program is based on a four-point approach developed by the National Main Street Center , a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The four components of the program are: Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Restructuring. The goal of this program is to encourage downtown revitalization and economic development within the context of historic preservation.
Since 1979, the Kentucky Main Street Program has been a successful addition toward reversing the economic decline in Kentucky's downtowns, both small and large. Participation in this program requires local commitment and financial support. A Main Street Manager administers the program locally through a volunteer board. The Heritage Council provides technical and design assistance, on-site visits, a resource center, national consultants and grant funding. While many cities have seen immediate improvements, the program establishes an effective organization that will continue to monitor and guide revitalization efforts. It is primarily a self-help program, locally administered and funded, with technical assistance and guidance provided by the Heritage Council. The efforts center on certain aspects of downtown revitalization. A public-private partnership is developed which uses a comprehensive approach, relies on quality, involves changing attitudes, focuses on existing assets, and is both incremental in nature while being implementation oriented.
There are many reasons for revitalizing a downtown, but once the process has begun communities note positive changes such as:
- Renewed confidence in the downtown through an improved image.
- New job opportunities through the attraction of new businesses and strengthened service/retail markets.
- Savings in tax dollars. Revitalization stabilizes and improves the area's tax base, while protecting the investments already made in the downtown.
- A process that enables property owners to maintain historic commercial buildings and preserve an important part of a community's unique heritage.
||Developing A Successful Program
Thresholds needed to be met for Developing a Successful Program:
- When a broad consensus has been reached in the community as to the importance and value of a viable downtown.
- When community leaders understand and appreciate the importance of economic development, not only in an industrial park, but also in the downtown.
- When community leaders understand Main Street's four-point approach to downtown revitalization.
- When the municipal government is committed to the project, both with financial and human resources.
- When the local chamber of commerce is supportive of the effort.
- When there is a community-wide commitment to preserving local historic resources.
- When there is a balance of need and potential in the downtown area.
- When projections indicate that the community will experience continued growth.
||Demonstrated Return on Investment
In 2012, Kentucky Main Street programs reported $129,512,869 total investment, representing, cumulatively, $86,935,584 in
public investment from all sources, matched by $42,577,291 in private investment, and supported by 104,985 volunteer
hours committed by KYMS board members and community supporters! These statewide figures represent:
- 1,234 net jobs in Main Street districts
- 279 new businesses created
- 111 new housing units in downtowns
- 321 downtown buildings rehabilitated
Over three decades, Kentucky can document $3.73 billion in public-private investment throughout the Commonwealth
through the Kentucky Main Street programs.
Nationwide, statistics show that shopping dollars spent downtown have a greater return on investment back into the community:
- 6 cents of every dollar spent with a “big box” retailer is retained/recirculated in a community (Source: Rocky Mountain Institute)
- 20 cents of every dollar spent with a chain store is retained/recirculated in a community (Source: Small Business Administration)
- 60 cents of every dollar spent with a sole proprietorship is retained/recirculated in a community (Source: Small Business Administration)
||To Learn More
If you are interested in learning more about how the Kentucky Main Street program can benefit your community, contact Kitty Dougoud, Kentucky Main Street program administrator, or Jen Spangler Williamson, AIA, Main Street and staff architect. We also encourage you to visit a Kentucky Main Street community and take time to meet with the local manager.