Butler County Times Gazette
  • Downtown Augusta Inc. to continue operations in spite of Main Street Program shutting down at state level

  • The local program was recently approved for $13,000 in funds from the Augusta City Council. The group received no funding from the state level.
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  • The Kansas Department of Commerce has discontinued the Main Street Program.
    Downtown Augusta Inc. was established as part of the Main Street Program but DAI isn’t going anywhere. The DAI board met Thursday to develop an action plan for the organization to follow into the future.
    Director Holly Ross emailed DAI’s members to assure them that their local entity will continue to function effectively.
    “This does NOT mean that Downtown Augusta, Inc. is discontinued.  DAI is an organization which was designated through the Kansas Main Street program, but we are our own entity in this community,” Ross wrote. “Even though our state organization is discontinued, the National Main Street Organization still stands and we are working to develop a plan to make full use of those resources. I want to assure you that our board of directors is working diligently to establish an action plan to assure that our Kansas Main Street Program will continue to flourish.”
    The local program was recently approved for $13,000 in funds from the Augusta City Council. The group received no funding from the state level.
    Ross said DAI’s success was not based on the state program.
    “ Our successes have not been reliant solely on the state Main Street program.  The wonderful volunteers, partnerships with City of Augusta and our local businesses are what have led to our very successful community,” she said in the release. “We will not stop moving forward with our mission to continue to strengthen the downtown area.  We still believe that the heart of our community is the downtown and we must all work together to make sure that it continues to be.”
    The Department of Commerce also announced that the 2012 conference scheduled for Oct. 17-19 in Emporia has been cancelled, effective Sept. 20.
    Augusta City Manager Bill Keefer said he was disappointed in the decision by the Department of Commerce.
    “I’m very disappointed and disheartened as the Main Street Program has been the foundation for significant reinvestment, redevelopment and job creation in our downtown as well as downtowns across Kansas and the United States,” Keefer said.
     Pat George, Kansas Secretary of Commerce said the move was made with efficiency in mind.
    “As of today, the Department is implementing a restructuring that will allow us to be more cost efficient while still working effectively with Kansas businesses and communities,” George said. “Specifically, the Trade Division is being combined with the Business and Community Development Division. In addition, we are ending the Kansas Main Street program, as well as consolidating certain workforce services positions into our business development functions.”
    Page 2 of 2 - George said the restructuring was part of a continuing effort.
    “Over the past 19 months, the Department has refocused its programs, departments and divisions to reflect expected smaller state and federal budgets, which is a reality facing all state agencies in the future,” George said.
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