For the second time in a week Kansas governor Laura Kelly was in Salina to celebrate some good news, and this time she got to enjoy what she called “the best pizza west of New Jersey”.
Governor Kelly announced that the communities of Great Bend, Hays, and Salina will return to the Kansas Main Street program. Kansas Main Street helps communities preserve and revitalize their downtown districts by helping them develop a comprehensive strategy.
“The Kansas Main Street network continues to grow, and it’s great to see communities that were previously part of the program rejoin this year,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Today’s announcement is a sign for the future of our state’s vibrant downtowns and the state’s economy. It’s clear the Kansas Main Street program is not only back on its feet—it’s now stronger than ever.”
The Kansas Main Street program, initially launched in 1985, has helped dozens of primarily rural communities work toward maintaining and enhancing the viability of their downtown districts. The program is a self-help technical assistance program focused on organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring.
The Governor, who lived in Salina in 1986, spoke about her time here.
Salina Mayor Dr. Trent Davis spoke about the Downtown Streetscape project which was funded by the city. While it wasn’t the glamorous a part of the revitalization for downtown Salina, it was vital. It provided for improvements to things like sidewalks and utility access.
The Brownback administration ended the Kansas Main Street program in 2012. It was restarted in 2019 by Governor Kelly with support from the Kansas Legislature.
These communities were in the program during its first 27 years of existence, and since its return, these three communities have expressed interest in rejoining. With these three communities rejoining, the Kansas Main Street program has added ten communities in the past two years, bringing the total number of Designated communities to 35.
“Our main streets speak volumes about our state and its communities,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said. “We’re pleased to see three outstanding communities rejoining Kansas Main Street this year. Strong and vibrant main streets make it clear that Kansas is open for business, and we have outstanding cities and towns where people want to live and where businesses want to invest.”
Since Governor Kelly announced the Affiliate program in late 2020, more than 40 Affiliate communities have gained access to resources from the state and national offices to assist in their downtown revitalization efforts. The Affiliate program helps smaller communities that may not be ready to meet the requirements of a Designated community.
“Great Bend Economic Development recognizes that the eyes into any rural community are viewed through the downtown,” Sara Hayden, President of Great Bend Economic Development, said. “Our organization has worked hard throughout the last two years to make sure our downtown exemplifies the excellence we see for our city. We are pleased and excited to rejoin the Kansas Main Street program knowing that our visions and goals align and that will be able to help each other to see success in our downtown corridor.”
“Downtown Hays is honored to be selected as a Designated Kansas Main Street,” Sara Bloom, Executive Director of Downtown Hays Development Corporation, said. “This recognition speaks to how this community continues to support downtown revitalization, supports new and existing businesses, pursues planning and funding physical improvements and organizes events and promotions to raise the profile of our downtown. The designation also allows DHDC access to considerable resources through the state and national Main Street networks and provides a national platform for telling our story. Downtown Hays is historic, exceptional, unique, and thriving. This designation confirms it and gives us the tools to tell the world.”
“Salina Downtown Inc. (SDI) is excited to be a member of Kansas Main Street—again,” Leslie Bishop, Director of Salina Downtown Inc., said.”SDI’s motto is “better together,” and together, the members of Kansas Main Street can work to enhance the importance of local businesses and share our ideas to better each of our communities. Salina Downtown Inc. has a completely new office staff that is very excited to promote Downtown Salina with programming and events to encourage guests and visitors to explore all that Salina Downtown has to offer. By being a member of Kansas Main Street, we have added support to further our mission to be a healthy, vibrant community and for people to want to visit Downtown Salina—a great place to live, work and play.”
The Kansas Main Street program is affiliated with the National Main Street Center. While there are no federal funds provided directly to Main Street communities, designated cities are eligible for training and technical assistance designed to help them become self-sufficient in downtown revitalization.
“I want to join the Governor and Lieutenant Governor in welcoming these wonderful cities back to the Kansas Main Street program,” Kansas Main Street Director Scott Sewell said. “To those communities that have returned to the program, we are excited to have you and appreciate that you saw the value in the services and technical assistance provides. The state office is here to guide you and support you in your efforts, and we look forward to your success.”
The Community Development Division administers the program at the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Following her remarks in Salina Governor Kelly got to enjoy one of her favorite things she loved to eat when she lived in Salina…Scheme pizza.