Governor Laura Kelly Announces Kansas Main Street Program Expansion

Oct 19, 2021

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TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced plans to expand the Kansas Main Street Program by up to three additional communities this Winter.   

“When our main street businesses succeed, our whole economy succeeds,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “That’s why my administration restarted the Kansas Main Street Program in 2019 – to help our communities reinvest in our small businesses, recruit new families to our state, and grow our economy. The expansion of the program is further proof of its success, and I look forward to welcoming three additional communities this winter.”

Originally launched in 1985, Kansas Main Street has helped dozens of mostly rural communities work toward ensuring the viability of their downtown districts. During the first 27 years of the Kansas Main Street program, more than $600 million in redevelopment was invested in designated Main Street communities statewide. During that same time nearly 4,000 small businesses were started, creating over 8,600 new jobs. 

The program was closed by the Brownback administration in 2012 and brought back in late 2019 under the directive of Governor Laura Kelly and former Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers’ Office of Rural Prosperity.

“Quality of life is key to the Kelly Administration’s economic development efforts, and we know vibrant downtowns are a key indicator of community’s overall health,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “Since Governor Kelly brought the state Main Street program back, Kansas communities once again have the resources and tools they need to breathe new life into their communities and historic commercial districts.”

Earlier this year, the Governor announced the addition of Atchison, Baldwin City and Junction City, which brought the total number of designated Main Street communities in Kansas to 28. The program will now add up to three more designated communities, which are eligible for training and technical assistance designed to help them become self-sufficient in downtown revitalization, through a competitive application process.

The competitive process to become a Main Street community will begin on December 1, 2021, when online applications will be available. Those applications will be due no later than January 31, 2022, and the new communities will be announced in mid-February.

“The Main Street Approach has been around nationally since the 1980s and is a proven economic development tool, especially for small, rural communities,” Scott Sewell, director of the Kansas Main Street program, said. “Opening up the program to more communities in Kansas is yet another positive step forward for our state.”

Kansas Main Street has planned a workshop for any community interested in learning how to become a designated member of the downtown revitalization program. The Kansas Department of Commerce will host the virtual application workshop at 9 a.m. Wednesday, October 27. Communities wishing to submit applications will be required to first attend the virtual application workshop, which will explain the Main Street Approach and the process for successfully completing the application.

To register for this workshop, visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0lcu6vqzsuGNankK3ABKquNgKZXt-B3jjp

The Kansas Main Street program targets preservation and revitalization of downtown districts through the development of a comprehensive strategy based on the four points of Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring. See more details of current Kansas Main Street membership here: https://www.kansascommerce.gov/program/community-programs/main-street/

For more information on the Kansas Main Street program, contact Scott Sewell, Director of Kansas Main Street, at (785) 296-7288, or scott.sewell@ks.gov.

About the Kansas Department of Commerce

As the state’s lead economic development agency, the Kansas Department of Commerce strives to empower individuals, businesses and communities to achieve prosperity in Kansas. Commerce accomplishes its mission by developing relationships with corporations, site location consultants and stakeholders in Kansas, the nation and world. Our strong partnerships allow us to help create an environment for existing Kansas businesses to grow and foster an innovative, competitive landscape for new businesses. Through Commerce’s project successes, Kansas in 2021 was awarded Area Development Magazine’s prestigious Gold Shovel award and was named Site Selection Magazine’s Best Business Climate in the West North Central region of the United States.

About the Community Development Division

Established in 2019, the Community Development Division at the Kansas Department of Commerce exists to improve quality-of-life in communities across the state through various programs and services. The Kansas Department of Commerce understands the immense role played by strong communities in economic development and prioritizes investments in people and communities as major contributors to the overall strength of the Kansas economy. To learn more, visit the Community Development page at the Kansas Commerce website.