Atchison is officially a Main Street community.
Gov. Laura Kelly, Lt. Gov. David Toland and Kansas Main Street Director Scott Sewell were in Atchison on Tuesday to announce the designation, as Atchison joins Baldwin City and Junction City as new additions to the now 28 communities in the program.
“Main Street gives our communities access to key services, networking, and training opportunities,” Kelly said during a formal announcement in Atchison at the Santa Fe Depot on Tuesday. “It also allows local officials to prioritize the restoration and preservation of unique, historic downtown business districts.”
The application was completed by the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from city staff. The application effort included creating a budget, setting up an autonomous board of directors independent from the chamber and the city, and identifying a space and potential leadership to run the new local chapter of the organization.
“It was definitely not an easy process,” Chamber Director Andrea Clements said. “But we were confident that if we simply highlighted the momentum that was already present in this community that we would have a successful application.”
Atchison Mayor Abby Bartlett introduced Toland to begin the formal announcement program on Tuesday. She said the designation was a key part of the city’s strategy to provide more resources to help downtown businesses be successful.
“One of the biggest concerns we hear from Atchison businesses is that it is hard to be successful given the many demands on small business owners,” Bartlett said. “This program isn’t a magic cure, but it does provide resources and training that can have a great impact on our downtown business community.”
Main Street America is a national program that combines networking, technical training and transformation strategies to help communities improve their core business districts. The Kansas Main Street program has been around since 1985 but was discontinued in 2012 as the state cut funding to many state agencies, including the Department of Commerce that oversees the statewide Main Street effort.
When Gov. Kelly was elected in 2018, she rebuilt the department, focusing on economic development. Part of that focus was reimplementation of the Kansas Main Street Program. The program had 25 existing members, and this week’s additions were the first since the program was reinstated.
The Atchison program will be housed in the Santa Fe Depot.