Main Street Russellville was one of several programs in Kentucky that the National Main Street Center (NMSC) has announced have achieved national accreditation.
KYMS is administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC), and the center is a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The other accredited programs are Bellevue Main Street, Carrollton Main Street, Covington Downtown Renaissance, Heart of Danville, Downtown Frankfort Inc., Georgetown Main Street, Guthrie Main Street, Harrodsburg First, Downtown Henderson Partnership, Discover Downtown LaGrange, London Downtown, Maysville Downtown, Discover Downtown Middlesboro Inc., Murray Main Street, New Castle Main Street, Perryville Main Street, Pikeville Main Street, Heart of Scottsville, Shelbyville Development Corporation, Springfield Main Street and Williamsburg Main Street.
Of these, Russellville, LaGrange, Middlesboro, New Castle, Perryville, Pikeville, Scottsville and Williamsburg achieved national accreditation for the first time. Additionally, Kentucky Main Street serves 23 affiliate Main Street programs and three network communities.
Created in 1979, KYMS is the oldest statewide Main Street revitalization program in the nation, based on NMSC’s Four-Point Approach emphasizing organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring. The goal is to encourage downtown revitalization and economic development within the context of historic preservation. Participation requires local commitment and financial support, with a Main Street manager to administer the program through a volunteer board. KHC provides technical and design assistance, on-site visits, a resource center, national consultants and grant funding.
The national accreditation process evaluates and recognizes local Main Street programs according to 10 performance standards. These include broad-based community support for the commercial district revitalization process from both public and private sectors, a relevant mission statement and comprehensive work plan, paid professional program manager, adequate operating budget and commitment to reporting key statistics.
“This increase is a testament of the commitment these communities have to the Main Street approach, and demonstrates its value,” said Kitty Dougoud, KYMS program administrator. “These local directors and their boards are working really hard to make sure their communities understand how all the components of this comprehensive approach work in tandem to make their downtowns more viable and vibrant.”
At the National Main Streets Conference in Detroit May 18-20, Discover Downtown Middlesboro was also singled out – along with Rawlins, Wyoming – as “Ones to Watch,” cited as “exceptional communities working on very innovative projects, and… poised on the cusp of major transformation.”
According to NSMC, “Discover Downtown Middlesboro has been at the forefront of downtown revitalization since it was founded in 2006, making impressive efforts to recruit public and private support. In 2013, the group secured $136,000 in grants and recorded its highest level of private giving ever. Even more impressive, more than $1.2 million in grants is pending for 2014, and Middlesboro plans to create 1,000 jobs in the next five years.”
A featured speaker at the national conference, noted preservation economist Donovan Rypkema, cited the Main Street revitalization program as “the most cost-effective economic development program in the nation.”
The Kentucky Main Street Program bears this out, with proven success in reversing the economic decline of many downtown commercial districts. Through the Main Street program over three decades, Kentucky can document investment of more than $3.7 billion, leveraged through private and public sources.
In 2013 alone, Kentucky communities reported nearly $122 million total investment, representing, cumulatively, $48.6 million in public investment from all sources, matched by nearly $28.4 million in private investment, as well as 531 net jobs added in Main Street districts and 364 downtown buildings rehabilitated.