2010 GAMSA Semifinalist Paducah, Kentucky

Using the Main Street Four Point Approach®, downtown Paducah has seen a net gain of 234 new businesses and 1,000 new jobs. Much of this success can be attributed to the re-branding of downtown and the complete remodeling of LowerTown, downtown’s residential neighborhood. Three strong, effective programs have led to a great deal of this success: the Artist Relocation Program, the Downtown Streetscape Program, and the Downtown Revitalization, which led to the riverfront redevelopment project. Targeting artists to rehab older homes for living and working, along with excellent financial incentives offered by the city and Paducah Bank, the Artist Relocation Program has exceeded everyone's expectation as a revitalization tool for LowerTown. Many structures have been completely renovated and new infill construction has taken place. The program has established a vibrant arts district, adding dramatically to the city's overall quality of life. The Downtown Streetscape Program put the power and utility lines underground, planted trees and gardens along the sidewalks and medians, invested in public sculptures, and cleared out the old cement sidewalks, replacing them with beautiful brickwork. The Riverfront Development Project will be one of our biggest projects as well as one of our greatest tools to continue the revitalization of downtown. It is due to the success of Paducah’s revitalization efforts that the riverfront redevelopment project has received major government support and funding, as well as successful grant applications.

The Numbers

Population: 26,275
Net number of new jobs: 1,000
Net number of new businesses:  234
Number of building rehabilitations: 119
Number of new buildings: 27
Vacancy rate when the program began: 70%
Vacancy rate today: 14%
Dollar amount of public investment: $49,700,000
Dollar amount of private investment: $52,400,000

In Their Own Words

Paducah Main Street has distinguished itself by focusing on the arts as a revitalization strategy. Having seen what a boon the arts can be to a community – by enhancing the quality of life, thus providing an added incentive to prospective business owners and employers – Paducah Main Street made establishment of an arts-friendly environment a prime objective. With the successful implementation of the Artist Relocation Program, Paducah became an arts destination. The program and the city received national attention, which brought much-needed tourism revenue. In the nine years it has been active, the Artist Relocation Program has won numerous state and national awards, but even more importantly, it led to the establishment of the Paducah School for the Arts, with classes held in one of downtown's rehabbed buildings. Meanwhile, plans for new businesses and employment continue to be one of our major goals. We now target businesses that add value and enhance the "Historically Hip" character of downtown. The City of Paducah as a whole has won several awards that, in large part, can be attributed to Paducah Main Street initiatives. For the past three years, Policom Corporation has ranked the Paducah Micropolitan Area in the top 20 Micropolitan Areas, in terms of economic strength, out of 574 Micropolitan Areas in the U.S. In 2008, Southern Business & Development Magazine named Paducah one of the "ten small towns in the South that deserve a second look."