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 Paris Main Street Program is a designated Kentucky Main Street Program. To be a designated community, the Program must adhere to the four-point approach, and make continuous strides in all areas. The status of designated community is given only to those programs who are scored highest in their annual evaluation by the Kentucky Heritage Council. Paris recieved this honor in 2011, and continues to maintain a thriving Downtown economy with cooperation and partnerships from the City of Paris, Bourbon County, Downtown business and property owners, and public/private community support.
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.
A few fun facts about our Program……
In 2010 alone, Kentucky Main Street programs reported more than $465 million invested in downtowns through these programs, representing:
- 720 net jobs in Main Street districts
- 367 new businesses created
- 391 downtown buildings rehabilitated
- $394,219,405 in public improvements, such as streetscape projects
- $72,630,458 in private investment
In fact, more than $3.5 billion has been reinvested in our state’s economy since the Kentucky Main Street Program began!
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)