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Public, downtown merchants hear about Main Street

September 16, 2010

PLYMOUTH — A committee — formed by Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter several months ago to pursue ideas that could revitalize the downtown area — met last night.
The seven committee members invited interested community members and downtown merchants to attend the meeting as well.
The committee has members from the Plymouth Redevelop-ment Commission, PIDCO and the Plymouth Park Board.
Guest speaker was Shae Kmici-kewycz of the Indiana Main Street Program.
Indiana Main Street (IMS) was established to provide professional assistance in economic revitalization to communities throughout the state. Funding for Main Street comes from the state’s general budget, according to Kmicike-wycz.
Plymouth first qualified as a Main Street Community in 2008. At that time, the program locally was under the umbrella of the Marshall County Tourism Bureau.
Senter said, “In December of 2008, it (IMS) got off the ground — but only about 3 feet.”
During the meeting, the speaker suggested that the biggest hurdle in getting a project started is who or what group is going to be responsible for the program. Senter said he feels the Downtown Revitalization Committee is a good place to start.
“Practically everyone in the community can be involved,” Kmicikewyck said. “The whole Main Street movement is grass roots. As the traditional heart and hub of government, commerce, justice, and social interaction, the downtown business district plays a crucial role in the overall image of a community.”
She went on to say that Indiana Main Street has a four-point approach including organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring.
Many of the ideas she presented are already in the works in Plymouth, such as the Second Friday events held in the downtown area and façade program that helps property owners with improvements to the outside of their buildings.
Offerings provided by the Main Street program include downtown enhancement grants, building site locator database, and workshops and training sessions. She said 23 applications for grant monies this cycle have been received.
Kmicikewycz explained one of the greatest benefits of the program is the opportunity to network with other communities, and that the Main Street community investments in 2008 totaled $419,715,068.61 along with $874,223,871.95 in public dollars in-vested — for a grand total of $1,293,938,940.56.
There are now 101 Main Street communities in Indiana.
Plymouth resident and former downtown merchant Bill Watson said, “We have a lot of empty storefronts. That should be the first focus.”
More information of the Main Street program can be found at www.ocra.in.gov.
The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) works with local, state, and national partners to provide resources and technical assistance to aid rural communities for economic development. 

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