City's Main Street Accreditation Not Top Priority
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - While the city has been working on establishing a TIF district and a city block project, a high accreditation the city has earned for many years has been allowed to slip a notch.

The Kentucky Heritage Council developed the Kentucky Main Street Program in the late 20th century to assist communities with revitalization efforts in downtown areas, so historic buildings and the economic vitality of those places could be preserved. 

Paducah's Main Street program was started by Mayor Gerry Montgomery in 1989, partnering with professionals, business owners and citizens to benefit many businesses through the decades. In 2010, Paducah earned at the national level, a Great American Main Street Award.

However, in 2018, Paducah lost its highest national accreditation for this program and did not get it back last year. Main Street Director and Downtown Development Specialist Katie Axt says priorities were shifted and requirements for the highest accreditation were not met.

Axt said, "We are accredited, just not the top accreditation. We were Network (lowest) accredited in 2018 and then Affiliate (mid-tier) accredited in 2019. We are striving for bigger projects, we are going above and beyond with our own initiatives. Our board needed to meet seven times to qualify and we only met six times. It just wasn't what we chose to do."

Since gaining the high accreditation, the only other time Paducah lost it was 2013, when the city was without a director for nine months. They promptly regained it in 2014. 
As far as West Kentucky Star could determine, Paducah's Main Street board has not met since February. While the pandemic has affected many aspects of community involvement in local government, most of the other 29 Main Street programs in Kentucky have found ways to meet.

The national program helps communities lay the foundation for local initiatives to leverage local assets like cultural or architectural heritage, local enterprises, and community pride. The four components of the program are: Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Vitality.

Axt said the city currently doesn't have the ability to staff all of the needs to keep the ranking, and, "I can only do so much."

She said, "It's a 'label' and we are making bigger things happen. COVID-19 has kept us from our regular objectives and now we're just trying to help our struggling downtown businesses stay open. That's our priority now."

Published 05:00 AM, Friday Sep. 04, 2020
Updated 05:46 PM, Friday Sep. 04, 2020



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