Johns: Main Street revitalization, preservation efforts continue

Published 7:47 am Thursday, January 12, 2017

On Oct. 18, The Winchester Sun published a column written by Robert Blanton titled, “The story of Main St. efforts.” The article provided a detailed history of Winchester’s Main Street program. This is a continuation of that column.

By Graham Johns

Main Street Winchester, originally called Winchester First, was established as a department of the City of Winchester. Though some Main Street programs are stand-alone 501(c)(3) organizations, there are definite advantages to being a department of the city.

MSW is governed by a board of 11 directors appointed by the mayor. Seven directors are at-large members and four are representatives from the Tourism Commission, Chamber of Commerce, Clark County Fiscal Court and Industrial Development Authority. All 11 are voting members. The mayor and county judge-executive are ex-officio, non-voting members of the board. Administratively, the MSW executive director reports to the city manager.

Our organizational structure has enabled us to collaborate with other local entities. Besides those mentioned above, we have partnered with the Downtown Business Association, Leeds Council for the Arts, Farmers’ Market, Activity Coalition, Clark County Community Foundation and The Greater Clark Foundation on various projects.

The mission of Main Street Winchester, re-written in early 2015, is to preserve, restore, enhance and promote Downtown Winchester for business, entertainment and living. Our vision is to work to create a vibrant destination for residents, visitors and businesses through preservation, adaptive re-use and promoting diverse and innovative cultural activities.

The Main Street program is built around four fundamental key points:

— Organization: Getting everyone working toward the same goal

— Design: Improving the appearance of the downtown area

— Promotion: Selling the image and promise of Main Street to all prospects

— Economic Restructuring: Strengthening a community’s existing economic assets while diversifying its economic base.

Not coincidentally, MSW has four committees by the same name. In my last column published on Aug. 12, 2016, I listed many of the accomplishments of these four committees over the past two years.

Going forward, we are anticipating the release of a comprehensive downtown development master plan. We are indeed grateful to the Clark County Community Foundation, the City of Winchester and the Clark County Fiscal Court for financing this study.

One of the recommendations from this plan will be to establish some form of revolving loan program to assist downtown businesses with roof stabilization, facades and other projects. At our December meeting, the board pledged $50,000 from our Beer Cheese Festival proceeds toward this loan program. Further details will need to be determined.

For additional information about Main Street Winchester, please check out one of the following websites: downtownwinchesterky.org, facebook.com/downtownwinchester or winchesterky.com/index.aspx?nid=863.

Graham Johns is president of the Main Street Winchester Board of Directors.