FRANKFORT, Ky. — More than $91 million was infused into the state’s economy in 2018 by Kentucky Main Street Program (KYMS) participating communities, according to the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC).
Totaling $91,191,866, this cumulative investment in downtown commercial districts was reported by 29 communities and represents $73,720,221 of private investment matched by $17,471,684 in public improvements. Cumulatively, the program also generated 1,215 new jobs in Main Street districts and the creation of 142 new businesses.
Since its inception in 1979, Kentucky Main Street has generated more than $4.5 billion of investment throughout the Commonwealth.
“Kentucky Main Street has had an enormous positive impact in communities of all sizes, but especially in rural areas where the economy has transitioned or completely changed and towns have had to look beyond traditional revenue sources,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer. “The program has been transformative by promoting small businesses and preserving and maintaining the authenticity of historic buildings that both residents, and tourists such as those on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, have come to love.”
Cities achieving national accreditation for 2019, as certified by both KYMS and the National Main Street Center, are Bardstown, Beattyville, Cadiz, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Cynthiana, Covington, Danville, Guthrie, LaGrange, London, Maysville, Middlesboro, Morehead, Murray, Perryville, Pikeville, Pineville, Scottsville, Shelbyville, Springfield, Taylorsville, Williamsburg, Winchester, and the Tri-Cities of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch. Participating Network programs are Dawson Springs, Paducah, Paintsville, and Salyersville.
Potts said the private-public investment reported by communities is enhanced by the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit, available for owners of historic buildings and residences listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Current legislation proposed in HB456 would increase the cap of this credit to $30 million, from $5 million. Since enacted in 2005, the state credit has generated $517 million of private investment in preservation throughout the state, leveraged through $39.7 million in credits.
Kentucky Main Street was created by KHC to reverse economic decline in central business districts through historic preservation and redevelopment of commercial buildings. Participation requires local commitment and financial support, with a community Main Street director administering the program with a volunteer board. KHC provides technical and design assistance, on-site visits, a resource center, and access to national consultants.
A conference celebrating the program’s 40th anniversary will take place April 23-25 in Covington, with sessions exploring successes as well as opportunities and challenges facing Main Streets of all sizes. Session proposals are invited and will be accepted through Thursday, Feb. 28. For information, see www.rcov.org/wwwrcovorg/kymainst40.