Main Street Winchester earns national accreditation

Main Street Winchester (MSW) has once again been recognized as a nationally-accredited Kentucky Main Street Program based on its achievements in 2017. 

The recognition comes from Main Street America and the Kentucky Main Street Program.

MSW’s goal is to encourage downtown revitalization and economic development within the context of historic preservation, according to a press release issued Tuesday.Main Street Winchester is a volunteer-based program, supported by one city staff person.

Last year, the organization completed many notable projects and worked toward implementing several long-term initiatives. It began the implementation of 10 priority recommendations from the Downtown Master Plan, established a Downtown Development Investment Fund through public-private partnerships and hosted 12 community events from the Christmas Parade to Rock the Block concerts to the Beer Cheese Festival.

Additionally, MSW reported more than $4 million of private investment in downtown Winchester in 2017.

MSW’s hard work in 2017 was also recognized at the Kentucky Main Street Awards in January. It received Best Promotional Event for the Downtown Urban Loft Tour, along with its partners. And board member Debra Parr was named Volunteer of the year.

In 2018, the group plans to formalize the programs supported by the DDIF and open those programs to downtown businesses and property owners. MSW also plans to implement a Tax Increment Finance District.

The group is currently crafting a request for proposals for streetscaping that will focus on transforming the “high side” of South Main Street into an accessible public space, and will continue to plan community events in downtown throughout the year.

While MSW is a department of the City of Winchester, the majority of its programs and projects are completed by volunteers, according to the release. The MSW board is all-volunteer and is supported by a system of volunteer committees made up of community members, as well as one city staff person.

“The Main Street program is a multi-faceted approach to downtown economic development. Working from several angles at once is complicated, but effective. I could not be prouder of the board and our volunteers for their hard work and commitment in 2017.” Executive Director Rachel Alexander said. “Seeking accreditation not only holds us accountable and allows us to see in a quantified way how we are doing each year, it also helps when seeking grants. Very often certification is a requirement or weighted component on grant applications.”