In the latest in a string of positive economic news for the state, 27 Kentucky Main Street Program (KYMS) communities finished last year strong with a reported $45.5 million cumulative investment in downtown commercial districts in 2020.
This total represents $28.1 million in private spending matched by $17.4 million in public improvements encompassing building rehabilitation, new construction, infrastructure and special projects offset by rehabilitation tax credits, grant funds and local city and county budgets. Additionally, these communities finished the year with a net gain of 842 new jobs, 122 new businesses and 66 rehabilitation projects completed in Main Street districts.
“The positive news continues for the commonwealth with our Main Street communities investing millions, creating jobs and giving tourists more reasons to visit,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “This is another good day for Kentucky with more great news about continued investment in our state that is creating a brighter future for our people and our economy.”
“Kentucky Main Streets are critical to the success of our local communities and serve as the foundation for generating travel revenue in historic downtowns across the commonwealth,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry. “As Kentucky continues to focus our efforts on a safe return to travel, encouraging tourism development in rural communities will continue to play a key role in the commonwealth’s future economic success and recovery.”
In celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, the week of May 9-15 is dedicated to Kentucky Main Streets, with a new theme each day to encourage support of local businesses and historic downtowns.
“This success proves the Main Street Approach works – and these communities bounced back due to the resiliency of local directors and their ability to take advantage of tools they had learned to utilize through participation in the statewide program,” said Kitty Dougoud, Kentucky Main Street administrator. “These included assisting businesses to create space for open-air retail and dining, encouraging a shift to online sales and networking with other directors to see what was working in their communities and apply different approaches.”
Kentucky has continued to receive positive economic news in recent weeks, indicating the Commonwealth is poised to emerge from the pandemic as a leader creating more opportunities for our people in every corner of the state.
This week, the Governor announced record sales tax and motor vehicle usage tax receipts, a direct indicator of strong economic activity that also sets up Kentucky to have an estimated surplus of more than $586 million. This estimate puts the state on pace to end the current fiscal year with over $1 billion in the rainy day fund – the most money ever in a rainy day fund in Kentucky.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury also announced this week that Kentucky will receive $2.183 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund, with the allotment smaller than an earlier estimate because of the state’s positive economic performance.
Last week, the Governor announced that one of the big three credit rating agencies, Fitch Ratings, improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery from the pandemic. The new rating highlighted how Kentucky’s employment recovery through March has been slightly ahead of the national pace.
Even during the pandemic, the Governor announced 270 economic development projects that will create more than 8,000 new jobs. The average pay for those jobs is one of the highest in years. He supported our rural communities with more than $124 million in investment, for 160 projects that are helping to diversify regional economies.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million.
Kentucky Main Street was created by the Kentucky Heritage Council (KHC)/State Historic Preservation Office in 1979 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 through Main Street America.
The statewide program also recently announced that 23 communities achieved national accreditation for 2021 as certified by both Kentucky Main Street and the National Main Street Center. They are Bardstown, Beattyville, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Covington, Cynthiana, Danville, Guthrie, LaGrange, Maysville, Middlesboro, Morehead, Murray, Perryville, Pikeville, Pineville, Scottsville, Salyersville, Shelbyville, Springfield, Taylorsville, Williamsburg and Winchester. Participating affiliate programs are London, Paducah and the Tri-Cities of Cumberland, Benham and Lynch. Network programs are Owenton and Paintsville.
“Kentucky Main Street continues to prove transformative, especially for rural communities seeking to attract and maintain small, locally owned businesses that invest back into the community and together create strong downtowns that anchor additional growth,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer. “This has been especially important as the entire state works to recover from the impact of COVID-19 and a shift in the way business is done.”
Kentucky Main Streets has generated more than $4.7 billion of investment throughout the commonwealth since its inception.
Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet