Downtown Kenosha Inc is a Part of Main Street – Why It Matters
Downtown Kenosha Inc became Main Street accredited in 2014 through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). But what is Main Street and why is it so important to maintain that accreditation and commitment for our organization and community?
Quoted from the WEDC, “The goal of the Main Street Program is to support downtown community development in the State of Wisconsin. WEDC provides technical assistance to communities in the planning, management and implementation of strategic development projects in downtowns and urban neighborhoods.”
The Main Street Program is originally based on a federal model to revitalize downtowns and historic districts to combat the displacement of businesses from the era of the giant mall developments in the 1980’s. Evolution has taken place over the years, but the model still stands on its founding principles to be a connector through design, organization, promotion, and economic vitality. Now celebrating their 40th year in operation, with more than 1600 partners, the Main Street Program has reinvested 79 Billion, yes Billion, of dollars into redevelopment and historic preservations of their partnering communities. These Main Street communities have also rehabilitated nearly 285,000 buildings, created 640,017 jobs, and seen 143,613 businesses start up since it’s inception.
This past year alone (2018) 4.39 Billion has been reinvested with 25,300 net new jobs created, 8,146 buildings rehabbed and 5,300 hundred new storefronts. Their volunteer programs have logged over 2,150,000 hours and they have created new software, trainings, and committee structures to be even more effective in the years to come.
As we partner with this remarkable program, we have been able to create our Façade improvement program, create anchor events in our community, retain sponsorship for beautification projects, and continue training for better future reinvestment projects in our own area. One of our Wisconsin sister cities, Wausau’s River District, won the Great American Mainstreet Award (GAMA) this year for their inspiring connectivity of their streets, their effective work to reduce their vacancy rate to only 3 percent, and for becoming an impressive arts and cultural destination. This award inspires us in Kenosha to create a like minded place that will help our downtown businesses continue to flourish!
While Main Street is most definitely considered a successful program, in many ways it can be considered a movement; a movement to bring back the passion for experiencing a beautiful downtown, to bring a nostalgia of home, to bring innovation in experience, and to create a vibrant generation for years to come.