The Business Side of Main Street Kent
Earlier this week, I made reference to the softer side of Main Street Kent when I shared Mary Gilbert's weekly update on events and happenings in downtown Kent. I say softer side because compared to many of the other things that Main Street Kent has done keeping people informed and promoting downtown Kent is softer than the nuts and bolts of putting in new trash cans downtown. But my soft is another person's hard cash, and a number of the downtown business owners have said how much the free advertising has helped them have record setting sales days this past year with events like the Clydesdales and the Wine and Cheese festival organized by Main Street. The thing is, Main Street is a multi-faceted organization, and from day one they have advocated their 4 areas of activity - Organization, Promotion, Design, and Economic Restructuring - which is what convinced me they were worth the investment.
Main Street Organizations
Downtown vibrancy doesn't just happen; it takes a lot of work to create the right atmosphere for vibrancy to start popping. With over 20 years under its belt, the national Main Street organizations have a proven formula that works which is a big reason I felt investing in a Main Street Kent organization made sense.
Like any investment, there's always a risk of failure, but Main Street had a successful track record in communities just like Kent, it had a group of energized people in Kent, and it had built in reporting and accountability mechanisms.
You don't get to use the Main Street name just because you have a great smile. You have to prove that you are serious about downtown revitalization, and if you want to keep the name you've got to show results. Each year the State Main Street people audit each Main Street community to make sure they're fulfilling the obligations of the Main Street program and producing results. If a local Main Street group fails to perform they lose their Main Street status; it's that simple.
State of Ohio Main Street
I understand that the State of Ohio Main Street folks will be coming into Kent in the next couple of weeks to evaluate their performance against Main Street standards. From what I've seen, I think Main Street Kent should be in good standing, but as an investor in the program I'm glad the State provides this kind of scrutiny. It gives me greater confidence in how the City's investment is being used. Frankly, I wish all my investments came with that kind of performance accountability.
The following are the operating reports that Main Street Kent is required to send to the State Main Street organization each month to demonstrate their performance.