USDA funding restarts Kansas Main Street program

The Kansas Main Street, Inc. (KMSI) was officially relaunched September 25 in Emporia, with funds from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) through their Rural Development Grant Program.

The Belleville Chamber and Main Street program has continued to operate locally despite the de-funding of the state program in 2012. Following the dissolution of the statewide program in 2012, KMSI implemented a new, statewide initiative to establish a public-private partnership to guide and stimulate the economic growth of downtowns throughout the state. The mission of KMSI is to engage necessary leadership to define and address downtown and community needs and opportunities in Kansas. This exciting economic and community development program will create an environment where business and community leaders can collaborate with local, state and federal officials to develop and implement dynamic, new programs that will enable them to take charge of their own growth and economic destiny.

“Successful communities understand the need for “boots on the ground” that utilize a proven approach to effect real, positive and tangible change,” said Casey Woods, Director of Emporia Main Street. “Main Street communities access a variety of training and financial programs to help businesses start up and grow, and we are excited that communities, individuals, businesses and organizations throughout the state understood the necessity of what Main Street had to offer and worked hard to bring the state program back to Kansas as a public/private partnership. Kansas needs to grow its economy through sustainable grass roots efforts, and this is a fantastic step in that direction.”

Kansas Main Street communities have a proven history of successful rural economic development. During the 25 year period of the Kansas Main Street program, Main Street communities throughout Kansas engineered over $600 million in redevelopment, including the opening and expanding of over 3,800 small businesses and creating over 8,600 jobs in communities ranging in size. “Communities throughout Kansas understand the importance of our state’s small businesses, entrepreneurial development, and community growth,” said Chelsey Dawson, Dodge City Main Street Director.

“There is no other entity like Kansas Main Street that has a proven track record of successfully combining both economic and community development efforts for towns of all sizes. Kansas is still in need of a program like this to help keep our economy on a progressive path.”

Following a proven model set forth by the National Main Street Center for downtown redevelopment, KMSI will be able to deliver expertise, training, and technical assistance geared to revitalizing local economies and provide oversight and accountability to local Main Street communities.

As part of the program’s re-launch, KMSI has announced the opening for the Kansas Main Street State Coordinator position. This person will be in charge of initiating, coordinating, and supervising a statewide downtown revitalization program that utilizes historic preservation as an integral foundation for downtown economic development.

For more information or to apply for the Kansas Main Street State Coordinator position contact Casey Woods at (620) 340-6430 or mstreet@emporia-kansas. gov.

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