Renaissance Covington was one of three communities honored recently with a 2017 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) presented by the National Main Street Center, Inc. (NMSC) during its annual conference in Pittsburgh. Other honorees were Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard Merchants and Business Association, New Orleans; and West Chester Business Improvement District, West Chester, Pennsylvania.
“The 2017 GAMSA winners showcase the realized potential of commercial district revitalization,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of NMSC. “Whether it’s attracting independent businesses, repurposing historic buildings or cultivating a thriving food scene, this year’s winners all understand the importance of growing communities that value historic preservation while supporting the changing shift in population and trends.”
Renaissance Covington is nationally accredited through the Kentucky Main Street Program (KYMS), administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office. Kentucky Main Street is the oldest statewide downtown revitalization program in the nation, created in 1979 as a means to spark community economic development within the context of preserving historic buildings. The program utilizes NMSC’s successful Four-Point Approach® of organization, promotion, design and economic vitality.
“This award is a tremendous honor for a Main Street community to receive, indicating the quality of our statewide program and illustrating Kentucky’s success with economic development and downtown revitalization through historic preservation,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer. “Covington is a true standout and we are thrilled that their outstanding program has been recognized by the National Main Street Center.”
Situated in Northern Kentucky along the Ohio River, Covington is made up of 19 neighborhoods and commercial districts. According to the NMSC community profile, “The area features a casual mix of Midwestern strength and Southern charm and has developed a flourishing creative population. Brimming with beautiful Italianate brick buildings, the district has seen an influx of new independent businesses and insatiable demand for downtown residential units over the past few years.
“Established in 2003, Renaissance Covington has played a key role in spearheading efforts that integrate small business with creative public space projects to encourage civic engagement and Main Street revival. Since 2010, more than 40 new businesses have opened in formerly vacant storefronts, and many upper floors have transitioned into urban lofts. Since 2003, vacancy rates have dropped from 26 percent to 5 percent, and the district has added 790 jobs.”
For highlights including a video, visit https://goo.gl/qYA7YK.
Currently, 37 communities participate in the Kentucky Main Street Program, last year reporting a cumulative investment of $110 million including $75 million of private investment matched by $31 million in public improvements. KYMS can document more than $3.9 billion in public-private investment generated in participating communities since the program’s inception.
KYMS participation requires community commitment and financial support, with a local Main Street director administering the program through a volunteer board. The Kentucky Heritage Council provides technical and design assistance, on-site visits, a resource center, national consultants and grant funding.
The 2017 Great American Main Street Awards were made possible through support from PNC Bank.