Kent Downtown Partnership receives National Main Street accreditation

For the Reporter

The Kent Downtown Partnership (KDP) has been accredited by the National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street® programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to historic preservation and community revitalization through the Main Street Four Point Approach.

"We congratulate this year's nationally accredited Main Street programs for their outstanding accomplishment in meeting the National Main Street Center's performance standards," said Patrice Frey, president and CEO, of the National Main Street Center. "Accredited Main Street programs create vibrant communities by using a comprehensive strategy to preserve their historic character and revitalize their commercial districts, which helps make these great places to work, live, play and visit."

The organization's performance is annually evaluated by Washington State Main Street coordinator Sarah Hansen and the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation management, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards.

These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program's application of the Main Street Four Point Approach to commercial district revitalization. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

The KDP has been able to accomplish such things as hanging flower baskets, banners, ceramic planters, black benches, commercial grade holiday decorations and the ability to partner with the city on issues like parking downtown, design guidelines and an updated strategic plan for downtown. KDP works with many other organizations to accomplish revitalization goals for downtown.

"The service groups in Kent are phenomena to work with," said Barbara Smith, KDP executive director.

KDP has made available a Façade Improvement Grant that downtown businesses can apply for to improve the look of their storefronts. This is made available through KDP's Business & Occupation Tax program that is managed by the Washington State Main Street Program.

KDP also hosts events that bring people downtown, such as a recent Wine Walk. Private investment dollars in downtown in 2013 were estimated at $2,213,650.00. That doesn't include what the city has invested in improvements downtown. KDP was also an active participant in the recent rebranding of Kent.

KDP's vision and mission statement is: A home and destination, a comfortable sensation, of warmth and fascination, innovation and imagination.

"We truly are only limited by our imaginations and attitudes," Smith said. "Kent is a large city and we are blessed that downtown Kent still has that small town feel."

Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in l980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts. Working in more than 2,200 downtowns and urban neighborhoods over the last 34 years, the Main Street program has leveraged more than $59.6 billion in new public and private investment.

Participating communities have created 502,728 net new jobs and 115,381 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 246,158 buildings, leveraging an average of $33.28 in new investment for every dollar spent on their Main Street district revitalization efforts.

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