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Kentucky Main Street FAQs

What is the Kentucky Main Street Program?

The objective of the Kentucky Main Street Program is to support and improve Kentucky's downtowns and traditional commercial neighborhood districts. The Kentucky Main Street Program employs the Main Street Approach™, a community-driven, comprehensive strategy that encourages economic development through historic preservation. The program provides technical assistance that helps a community build partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders and encourages historic preservation. It promotes environmentally sustainable redevelopment, integrates a community's cultural assets and fosters entrepreneurial development and downtown living.

What is a traditional historic downtown commercial district?

A "traditional downtown historic commercial district" is defined as a grouping of 20 or more contiguous commercial parcels containing buildings of historical or architectural significance. The area must have been zoned, planned, built or used for commercial purposes for more than 50 years. The area must consist of, primarily, zero-lot-line development and have pedestrian friendly infrastructure.

What are the Main Street Four-Points®?

The Four-Points® of Main Street refer to proven techniques for community revitalization developed by the National Main Street Center. These techniques include Design, Economic Vitality, Promotion and Organization, all working together with community collaborations and partnerships.

  • ORGANIZATION - Develops partners with a goal of involving downtown's stakeholders to work toward a common goal, and drives a volunteer-based Main Street Program under the direction of a broad-based, dedicated board of directors and working committees, with the guidance of a paid program director to develop and plan the direction of the program, striving to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of the community.

  • DESIGN - Develops space and place and enhances the physical appearance of downtown by maintaining and restoring historic buildings and facades along with additional physical elements that make downtown special, all the while developing sensitive design management systems and long-term planning for sustainability.

  • ECONOMIC VITALITY - Develops entrepreneurs and retains and expands current businesses, strengthening a community's existing economic assets while expanding and diversifying its economic base, helping existing businesses and recruiting new ones, and converting unused space into productive properties such as retail, restaurants, housing, offices, entertainment or cultural facilities.

  • PROMOTION - Develops customers by selling a positive image of downtown, marketing the downtown's unique characteristics to residents, visitors, investors and business owners through advertising, retail activities, events, and marketing campaigns to highlight downtowns as exciting and enjoyable places to live, work, shop, play and invest.

What are the benefits of the Main Street Program?

When a community participates in a comprehensive revitalization effort, its traditional downtown or traditional commercial neighborhood district can experience a return to economic vitality. Benefits include:

  • Protecting and strengthening the existing tax base
  • Creating a positive community image
  • Creating visually appealing and economically viable downtown buildings
  • Attracting new businesses
  • Creating new jobs
  • Increasing investment in the downtown
  • Preserving historic architectural resources
  • Tailoring to specific community needs

Can Main Street apply to the entire town?

No. The Main Street area must be either a "traditional downtown historic commercial district or a traditional historic neighborhood commercial district." The Main Street program should focus its attention on one central area and core. Those in the surrounding area will certainly benefit from a stronger core and are encouraged to take part in the revitalization of the district. Programming that benefits downtown does not usually have the same impact on other areas of the city, like an industrial park. A smaller district allows Main Street volunteers to see their impact, expanding the district as the organizational capacity and community's density grows.

How does Kentucky Main Street assist communities?

Our staff and consultants provide technical assistance and services to local communities at three different levels: Network, Affiliate, and Accredited. Services focus on building local momentum and support for downtown development while assisting in the establishment of organizational capacity and downtown development programming. Services also focus on strategy and sustainability of the redevelopment efforts.

Is the Kentucky Main Street Program a grant program?

No. At no point in time will a community receive a check from the Kentucky Main Street Center as part of the Main Street program. KYMS staff provides technical assistance to our Main Street communities. However, communities who participate in KYMS are eligible to receive additional grants and other opportunities when available.

Who pays for a local Main Street program?

When applying to become a Kentucky Main Street program communities are required to submit a 3-5 year budget completely funding the program, including staff, professional development, travel and any overhead. The budget should be a public/private partnership. KYMS does not charge a community to be a part of the program, nor do they fund any part of a community's budget. Typical funding comes local governments, sponsors, memberships and fundraising. Diversified funding is encouraged.  Communities can learn more about fund development planning and executing fundraising strategies at Main Street trainings and working with the KYMS network of communities.

Are all levels of the Kentucky Main Street program required to have staff?

Yes. Communities, regardless of their size, are required to have a staff person dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown. Communities under 5,000 may have a part-time director, but full time is preferred and best serves the needs of the community.

If Main Street is a volunteer-driven program, why do we need to have a full-time director?

Though volunteers carry out the decisions and projects in a Main Street program, it is vital to have someone handling the day-to-day management of the program. Much of the individual's time will be committed to working with downtown business/building owners, local government and community stakeholders. In addition, they work with the volunteer base in order to get the greatest participation from community stakeholders and strengthening partnerships in the community. Trust us. If downtowns are competing with malls and box stores who have managers, then why would we not afford our downtowns the same leadership?

Can the Mayor or City Manager also be the Main Street Director?

There are unique situations, but typically no.  As the Main Street Director must focus the majority of their time on the Main Street district, this is not possible.

We already have four committees, why would we need to be part of Main Street?

Kentucky Main Street assistance is more than just having 4 committees that discuss issues related to the 4 points. It is about broadening the circle of responsibility around the success of downtown and strategically leveraging community assets to have successful and sustainable community development. Besides, if you are already doing Main Street why not access resources to strengthen your efforts and be state and nationally recognized for your hard work.

Can anyone use the Main Street name?

No. Only communities who are a part of the Kentucky Main Street program are allowed to use the Main Street name, which is trademarked by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Network communities are a part of the Kentucky Main Street Network, but not allowed to use the name until they become an Affiliate or and Accredited program.

Is the Kentucky Main Street program only open to Economic Development Authorities and other quasi-governmental organizations?

No. Communities must have a non-profit organization (501c3) with a board, bylaws, etc. The focus of that organization must be the revitalization of the Main Street district. There are unique situations, but all programs must have a non-profit organization.

Who can lead the local Main Street effort?

Main Street efforts can be initiated by anyone in the community, not just the local municipality. Citizens interested in finding ways to create more sustainable solutions to downtown development can begin to participate and work with their local partners including local government and slowly build the capacity to apply to be a Main Street community. Communities should reach out to the state office to obtain information on the program and the application process which includes an in person presentation by the community.