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Chester County Press

Main Street Matters

Daniel Embree, the executive director of Kennett Collaborative, recently made a presentation at a Kennett Square Borough Council meeting. He outlined some of the programs, events, and place-making initiatives that the nonprofit organization brings to the Kennett community throughout the year. One example, of course, is the Kennett Winterfest that took place this past weekend.

During the presentation, Embree pointed out that two businesses that now have brick-and-mortar locations in Kennett Square’s business district got their introduction to the community through events planned by Kennett Collaborative. This is one illustration of the benefits of having an organization like Kennett Collaborative in the community.

The work of revitalizing downtowns is never-ending. We’re lucky here in southern Chester County to have Kennett Collaborative and Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. to lead the efforts of strengthening the downtowns and to plan events that make the downtowns a better place to visit and work.

When Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro unveiled his proposed state budget earlier this month, one of the highlights was the “Main Street Matters” initiative that will provide increased investments in Pennsylvania’s Main Streets, downtowns, small businesses, and local communities.

Gov. Shapiro has made creating real economic opportunity for Pennsylvanians a priority, formulating the state’s first economic development strategy in 20 years. In his first year in office, Pennsylvania managed to create thousands of new jobs and an already-low unemployment rate fell even further.

In the 2024-2025 spending plan, Shapiro has proposed making $25 million available through the Main Street Matters program. This is part of a larger $600 million proposal to fund initiatives aimed  at boosting the state’s economy. The investments include:

• $500 million in bond funds to expand PA SITES, to support on-site development in priority industries;

• $20 million to support large-scale business innovation;

• $18 million for tourism and business marketing;

• $3.5 million to create and launch the Pennsylvania Regional Economic Competitiveness Challenge.

Here in southern Chester County, we can see how Main Streets really do matter. The revitalization of Kennett Square Borough’s business district coincided with the surrounding area’s remarkable transformation over the last few decades. In the Oxford area, where the more rural townships prioritize protecting farmland and open spaces, the downtown area is where commercial and retail growth should take place.  A strong and vibrant downtown is a cornerstone for a healthy community. Small businesses play an important part in any local community. We hope the “Main Street Matters” initiatives are funded and are successful in the coming years. 

Additionally, we can all play a part in strengthening our downtowns by attending local events and supporting the local small businesses. Main Streets really do matter.