Paducah Main Street Loses National Accreditation

Jun 3, 2014

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Paducah Main Street has lost national accreditation, but has been classified as an affiliate of Kentucky’s statewide Main Street program.  

Current Paducah Main Street Director Melinda Winchester says the program was without a director when applications for 2014 accreditation were due. Main Street organizations are formed with grassroots community support and work to revitalize and preserve the unique sense of place of downtown and neighborhood commercial districts.

The National Main Street Center was established in 1980 under the National Trust for Historic Preservation and provides resources for member and start up organizations to develop and improve their communities. According to the National Main Street Center website, the program has helped cumulatively generate $55.7 billion in new investment, a net 473,000 new jobs, and 109,000 new businesses. The program has also helped to rehabilitate 236,000 buildings. Established in 1986, Paducah's Main Street program works to preserve and develop Paducah's Historic Downtown and LowerTown Arts District.

Kentucky Main Street Coordinator Kitty Dougoud says that state affiliate status is the same as the nationally designated status. There are two tiers of classification at the national level, designated and accredited. A nationally accredited program meets all 10 performance standards with a score of 7 or above. A nationally designated program meets the majority of performance standards as evaluated by individual coordinating programs at a statewide, citywide, and sometimes countywide level. 

Paducah Main Street had been previously known as the Paducah Renaissance Alliance (PRA) and has had considerable turnover within its office in the last four years. Former Paducah Main Street director Lisa Thompson resigned her position in May 2013. Previously Carrie LeNeave spent two months in the post in 2011 before leaving for a career in real estate.  There has also been a complete turnover in office support staff.

Melinda Winchester was hired in February as Paducah’s Downtown Development Specialist and Main Street director.  Since Winchester's hiring the PRA board has been dissolved and Paducah Main Street now reports directly to the city with an advisory board.  

Although Paducah Main Street was previously accredited, Darlene Mazzone, chair of Paducah Main Street, expects the program to meet all requirements and be nationally re-accredited for 2015. Kitty Dougoud says, “Paducah Main Street went through a transitional period but is rebuilding and doing well.”