First Friday events, the Welcome Arch, efforts of Kingman Main Street and the Economic Development Department are all working to make downtown Kingman a vibrant place to socialize and do business, and Lani Lott, of Arizona Downtown Alliance, a coordinating program with Main Street America, says making downtown a priority is the first step to achieving that vibrancy.
Lott told Council at its meeting Tuesday that downtown revitalization like what Kingman has started is really “economic development with a twist.” She said downtown is important because it holds many of Kingman’s historical assets, and how it is managed shows the degree of pride the community has for its city. “A thriving downtown is the community’s gathering place, and that’s becoming very obvious with your new Friday event, your events, your park, people strolling on sidewalks,” Lott said. “It is a natural community gathering place, and that is one of the key aspects of a very vibrant downtown that is really looked at and managed well.”
She said downtown is also a business incubator, and that retention of those businesses is a component potential investors and developers will look at when considering moving to downtown Kingman. How downtown is perceived by the community and the shape it is in “is an indicator of the health of your city,” Lott said. “If it’s well-kept, if it’s got lots of different types of independent businesses there, if there’s people on the streets, they will come and look at your downtown’s central core,” she continued.
Properly maintaining downtown can be helped along by utilizing the Main Street America’s four-point approach that looks at areas necessary for helping sustain and revitalize that area of a city. Lott said it is an approach, a way that a community can come together with the public and the private to make downtown a destination for both residents and visitors. Those efforts pay off, as National Main Street statistics cited by Lott show that for every $1 reinvested downtown there is more than a $26 return on investment.
Community support and engagement, economic and entrepreneurial development, marketing and promotion, and placemaking comprise the four points, which need to be community driven to be successful. Lott explained the approach requires a comprehensive plan, like what Kingman Main Street has embarked on, a vision, leveraging of a community’s resources and reinforcement of community partnerships and collaborations.
“The one thing that keeps the Main Street four-point approach moving forward is consistency and a coordinated effort,” Lott said of the first pillar in particular. “So the key piece is having someone who’s dedicated to really rallying the troops, herding the cats and keeping those activities moving forward.” Kingman is doing just that, with multiples groups, individuals and City departments working together to progress its efforts in revitalizing downtown.
For more information on Main Street America visit www.mainstreet.org and/or the Arizona Downtown Alliance. To see what is happening with downtown Kingman revitalization efforts visit kingmanmainstreet.com.