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Kentucky Main Street Program encourages everyone to shop downtown this season

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A new campaign to encourage consumers to “Shop Downtown This Holiday Season” is being launched by the Kentucky Main Street Program (KYMS), as a means to drive retail sales to local businesses, keep money circulating in the local economy, and help cultivate the unique character that differentiates communities across the state.

The campaign features a colorful logo that can be customized by each of the 71 participating Kentucky Main Street communities. The logo was unveiled during the Frankfort Candlelight Tour, sponsored by the Frankfort Plant Board with assistance from the Downtown Frankfort Inc. Main Street program.

As a small business owner and avid supporter of Downtown Frankfort, as well as the organization’s web designer, Marti Booth was the graphic designer for the logo, which is the most recent in a series of “shop local” holiday season campaigns featured by KYMS.

Administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office, Kentucky Main Street is the oldest statewide downtown revitalization program in the nation, founded in 1979 and based on a four-point approach developed by the National Trust Main Street Center – including design, promotion, organization and economic restructuring. The program encourages downtown revitalization, public-private partnerships and economic development within the context of historic preservation.

“Main Streets across Kentucky feature some of the most unique shopping experiences to be found anywhere, from clothing boutiques to restaurants, gift shops, bookstores, hand-made artwork and jewelry, to Kentucky proud products – located in charming historic buildings that have been rehabilitated to serve new uses,” First Lady Jane Beshear said. “Shopping in downtown communities is not only a unique experience, but it boosts local economies and benefits much-needed small business growth.”

The logo unveiling took place at Poor Richard’s Bookstore, which has been in business for 33 years in downtown Frankfort. Owner Lizz Taylor is a lifelong advocate for small business development and says the benefits of shopping locally this holiday season cannot be overstated.

“When shoppers purchase a book and spend $25 at a chain store, only $3.90 of that stays in the community,” Taylor said. “However, if you purchase a $25 book at Poor Richard’s, then $13.75 stays here in Frankfort to support our local economy, create jobs and spur economic development.”

“Shopping downtown is the best way to show some local love this holiday season,” agrees Karen Keown, Kentucky Heritage Council economic development and Main Street coordinator. “For most small-town Kentucky businesses, the holiday season represents 75 percent of their total annual sales, so where you shop can make a real difference for business owners and be a direct benefit to Kentucky families. So remember to put ‘mom and pop’ on your holiday shopping list!”

Main Street programs require local commitment and financial support to qualify for participation in the statewide network. A manager administers activities through a volunteer board, while the Heritage Council provides technical and design assistance, program resources and national consultants.

In 2010, Kentucky Main Street programs reported more than $465 million invested in downtowns, representing 720 net jobs in Main Street districts, 367 new businesses created and 391 downtown buildings rehabilitated. This includes $394,219,405 in public improvements, such as streetscape projects, $72,630,458 in private investment and 250,312 volunteer hours logged by committee members and supporters.