Revitalizing downtown goal for Region 8 city

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) – Region 8 town squares are centers of commerce, attracting hundreds of thousands of commuters and potential customers every day!  For many cities business has bypassed them.

"There is a lot of traffic that comes through Kennett if you just watch the cars," said business owner Mary Jo Byrd.

"Big business or industry, when they come into a community they look at your downtown and see what you've got going on," said Sara Graves, Executive Director of the Downtown Kennett Revitalization Program.

Kennett has several businesses surrounding the court square but it's nothing like it used to be!

"Everyone from all around came to Kennett to do their shopping from Blytheville, Paragould, Malden," said Anita Brogden.

There is $4,000 available through the Facade Improvement Grant for businesses in downtown Kennett.

"It provides up to $500 in matching funds for business and property owners," said Graves.

"You kind of have to do the work first so I'm deciding what I'm going to do to my building.  I'm going to paint it," said Byrd.

Byrd grew up in Kennett and would like to see shops along these sidewalks sparkle to life!

"If they could get some kind of perk to refresh their buildings, that would be wonderful," said Byrd.

A lot of the businesses in the downtown area have been here for decades and say they would like to see more customers hitting the sidewalks and coming into their stores.

"I would love to see all the shops back on the square and busy times again," said Brogden.

The money is specifically for businesses to restore the outside of their shops.

"They have to come up with a plan for the front of their building they have submit it to us with color swatches," said Graves.

City leaders understand the financial situation for most business owners makes it tough to make improvements and hope this serves as an incentive.

"We have to be optimistic to make things happen," said Graves.

The Downtown Kennett Revitalization Program Executive Director Sara Graves said they are currently taking applications for this program made available through the state of Missouri.  The program is available through April of 2011, but Graves said they are asking for an extension.

For more information contact Sara Graves at 573-717-1158

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