The Garden City Telegram
2/16/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Main move

Dedicated supporters will help good program move forward.

Participation in Kansas Main Street has paid off in a number of communities, Garden City included.

But with the state pulling the plug on support for the program last September, member agencies were left to figure out how to save the small-business-friendly program that focuses on revitalizing downtown districts.

Credit supporters of the Kansas Main Street mission — and Garden City Downtown Vision Executive Director Beverly Schmitz Glass in particular— for forging ahead with a way to keep the program on track, and even expand into more communities in the state.  

During a recent meeting in Hutchinson, Glass and other directors of Main Street programs moved forward on a plan to breathe new life into a Kansas Main Street organization. Eight directors of downtown development groups — a group representing five geographical areas — approved articles of incorporation, and agreed to serve as the organization’s board of directors.

Glass — who’s been instrumental in positive change in downtown Garden City — will be president-elect of the new organization.

Moving forward, the fledgling entity still has much to do in fine-tuning its plan, such as outlining effective ways to replace assistance that came from the state level.

But it’s not as if the community-based organization relied on the state for operational funding. Garden City Downtown Vision, for example, enjoys strong support from members and sponsors, along with local government.

Community-based Main Street organizations did, however, benefit from Kansas Main Street training and expertise in crafting strategies that spurred job growth.

The Main Street program has indeed helped create and maintain jobs in Kansas, something Gov. Sam Brownback supposedly considers a priority.

Even though the Brownback administration didn’t view the Main Street program as worthy of continued state support — and made the ham-handed move of abruptly shutting it down with scant notice to participating communities and others involved — participants in communities across the Sunflower State rightly recognized its value.

As a result, the Main Street-style effort to foster economic growth in Kansas communities will continue — and no doubt with a renewed sense of energy and determination that cannot be undermined by a foolish decision in state government.