State Main Street program restarting

Executive directors from 23 Kansas downtown programs gathered Friday in Hutchinson to revitalize the Kansas Main Street organization that was shuttered through Kansas Department of Commerce budget cuts in September.

During the four-hour session the directors, under the guidance of Ron Kelley, a successful Hutchinson businessman and longtime Kansas Main Street and Downtown Hutchinson activist and volunteer, worked through articles of incorporation that had been drafted by Kelley.

The articles, signed by eight directors and Kelley, were unanimously approved. The directors who signed the document will become the new organization’s board of directors.

“After losing the state’s support for Kansas Main Street and the state coordinator position, we felt we needed to establish a state association,” said Beverly Schmitz Glass, Ph.D., executive director of the Garden City Downtown Vision program. “We not only need to meet the Nation Main Street criteria to be an accredited program, but also continue to focus on central business district revitalization while growing the organization to include more communities at new membership levels.”

“There’s a lot of work yet to be done, but we are excited to be moving forward when many thought we would just lock the doors and go home,” he added.

The name Kansas Main Street, Inc. was retained and the domain secured, as was the original website. The new bylaws for KMSI were discussed with additional work and review forthcoming. The directors voted Kelley as president, Glass as president-elect, and Casey Woods, Emporia Main Street executive director, as secretary-treasurer.

“I think Kansas Main Street directors understand that helping our state’s small businesses, entrepreneurial development, and community growth is simply too important to ignore,” said Woods. “There is no other entity that blends successful economic and community development efforts like KMS and with over $570 million in economic development activities generated in Main Street Communities that range in size from Peabody to Overland Park, Kansas citizens are still demanding a program like Kansas Main Street to help put our economy on a positive trajectory.”

The next step is to convene the new board of directors, work out the details of the inaugural membership levels, and flesh out the education and training calendar including determining the host cities.

Peabody Main Street Association Executive Director Shane Marler was one of the eight directors signing the articles of incorporation.

“I was pleased to put my name to that document,” he said. “The Main Street organization has made a significant impact on our community and I look forward to assisting in its rebirth.”

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