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Governor Laura Kelly Announces New Communities Join Economic Development and Revitalization Program

Apr 11, 2022

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~Eureka, Newton, Topeka, and Valley Center Join Kansas Main Street Program~

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced today that the cities of Eureka, Newton, Topeka, and Valley Center are the newest Kansas Main Street Program members. The program targets downtown districts by developing a comprehensive preservation and revitalization strategy. 

“When our main street businesses succeed, our 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 program’s expansion is further proof of its success, and I’m pleased to welcome these four additional communities.” 

The Kansas Main Street program, initially launched in 1985, has helped dozens of primarily rural communities work toward maintaining and enhancing the viability of their downtown districts. Unfortunately, the Brownback Administration ended the successful program in 2012. Governor Kelly restarted the program in 2019, with support from the Kansas Legislature. 

“Eureka, Newton, Topeka, and Valley Center are outstanding additions to Kansas Main Street,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “They have each demonstrated the vision and commitment to the long-term development of their downtowns—and this will help set the stage for new growth and a stronger local business community.”  

“We are beyond honored and excited to be selected as part of the Kansas Main Street program. This program is a critical teaching tool as we organize to revitalize Eureka’s Main Street,” said Eureka Main Street Director Heather Huntington Fuesz. “There are no big box stores in Eureka, and we are 30 miles from another shopping district. Revitalizing our Flint Hills community and growing a healthy Main Street District is critical to the success of our community and in creating a positive quality of life for our residents.” 

We love our downtown in Newton,” said City Commissioner Rod Kreie, Choose Newton Development Commission member. ”It’s one of the things that sets us apart from the more suburban communities in our region. Our historic buildings and unique local businesses are such an asset, and this designation will allow us to capitalize on downtown even more.” 

“We look forward to partnering with Kansas Main Street as we work to energize downtown Valley Center,” said Ryan Shrack, director of Main Street Valley Center. “We hope to strengthen our local organization by taking advantage of the training and other resources available to designated communities. We want Main Street Valley Center to thrive and grow into the future, and we believe the services Kansas Main Street offers will help us do that.” 

“Downtown Topeka is proud to be part of Kansas Main Street because it truly has the potential to be a game-changer for some communities,” said Rhiannon Friedman, President of Downtown Topeka Inc. “This initiative connects communities across the state, helping them build stronger, more resilient downtowns that are full of life and activity. With training, vast resources and worthwhile educational tools, it also allows organizations like Downtown Topeka to keep a pulse on the many issues impacting main streets just like ours.” 

The Kansas Main Street program is an affiliate of the National Main Street Center. There are no federal funds provided directly to Main Street communities. However, designated cities are eligible for training and technical assistance to help them become self-sufficient in downtown revitalization. 

Kansas Main Street is a self-help technical assistance program administered by the Community Development Division at the Kansas Department of Commerce. The program helps communities focus on organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring. 

Communities interested in earning designation in the program participated in a competitive application process beginning in December 2021, resulting in the four selected communities joining the state program. With the addition of these four communities, the Kansas Main Street program, there are 32 Main Street communities. 

“I want to join the Governor, and Lieutenant Governor in congratulating these wonderful cities named new Kansas Main Street communities,” Kansas Main Street Director Scott Sewell said. ”To our new program participants, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on making sure your downtown remains a healthy and important part of your community. The state office is here to guide you and support you in your efforts, and we look forward to your success.”

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.