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About the Kentucky Main Street Program

Main Street America logoCovington Great American Main Street Award presentationThe late 20th century economic decline witnessed by many of Kentucky's central business districts 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 [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ], a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The four components of the program are: Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality. The goal of this program is to encourage downtown revitalization and economic development within the context of historic preservation.

Kentucky Main Street logoUpdated 8-31-17 Kentucky Main Street Program Directory [PDF-456KB]

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 director 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.

Photo, right: Renaissance Covington Main Street contingent is honored with the 2017 Great American Main Street Award

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

Winchester Beer Cheese Festival
Winchester Beer Cheese Festival

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 commer ce 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 2016, 39 participating Kentucky Main Street programs reported $109,741,515 of total investment in these communities. This number includes $75,070,029 of private investment matched by $30,920,494 in public improvements, supported by nearly 100,000 volunteer hours committed by KYMS board members and supporters. Statewide, the program also generated:

  • 1,452 new jobs created in Main Street districts
  • 234 new businesses created
  • 81 new housing units in downtowns
  • 198 building rehabilitation projects completed
  • $47,592,082 invested in historic building rehabilitation
  • 6 historic rehabilitation tax credit projects

Over three decades, Kentucky can document more than $3.9 billion in public-private investment throughout the Commonwealth generated by Kentucky Main Street Program communities.

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

Historic Main Street image.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, via email or at 502-564-7005, ext. 4449.  We also encourage you to visit a Kentucky Main Street community and take time to meet with the local director.

National Main Street Center

National Main Street Center logo

Main Street America
National Main Street Center, Inc.
53 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 350
Chicago, IL 60604 External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

Fax: 202-588-6050 (fax)

For questions regarding membership, email External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.



2017 Kentucky Main Street Awards Guidelines (nominations due Weds., Nov. 22)

Main Street Monday
Current issue:

Past Issues

Director Resources
Kentucky Main Street Program logo [PDF-667KB]

National Main Street Center logo [PDF-122KB]

2017 Accredited Member Sublicense Form [PDF-196KB]

2017 Affiliate Member Sublicense Form [PDF-196KB]

2018 Accredited Program Annual Letter of Commitment [Word-100KB]

2018 Affiliate Program Annual Letter of Commitment [Word-99KB]

2018 Network Program Annual Letter of Commitment [Word-100KB]

2017 KYMS program evaluation form [Word-155KB]

Committee worksheets [Word-24KB]

Board member document [Word-17KB]

2017 Reinvestment Statistics quarterly reporting form [Excel-17KB]

2017 Instructions for Reinvestment Statistics [Word-16KB]

Average rent per square foot formula [Word-22KB]

The Main Street Four-Point Approach®
As a unique economic development tool, the Main Street Four-Point Approach® [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ]is the foundation for local initiatives to revitalize their districts by leveraging local assets - from cultural or architectural heritage to local enterprises and community pride.

The four points of Main Street work together to build a sustainable and complete community revitalization effort. They also correspond with the four forces of real estate value, which are social, political, physical, and economic.


Economic Vitality




Related Content

Kentucky Heritage Council Streetscape Design Guidelines

Main Street: Making the Connection presentation, "Capitalizing on Culture" conference, Pikeville, Aug. 2, 2014


Last Updated 12/5/2017