Monday, September 24, 2012

Brownback administration shutting down Kansas Main Street program

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is discontinuing the Kansas Main Street program, which has, for nearly three decades, been used to help revitalize downtowns across the state.

Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Pat George on Thursday cited “smaller state and federal budgets moving forward” for the decision to shut down the Main Street program, lay off employees and do other restructuring.

He said 18 positions are affected throughout the Commerce Department.

“The decision to eliminate positions is never an easy one, especially with associates that have dedicated considerable time, energy and passion to the department and to serving the people of Kansas. I hope that this restructuring eliminates the need for further staff reductions in the future,” George said.

George said he made the decision to restructure in consultation with the administration.

The Kansas Main Street program, which is under the Commerce Department, has been a popular one since its inception in 1985.

The program provides management training, consultation and dollars to small towns to revitalize downtown areas.

The Commerce Department’s website says the 2012 Kansas Main Street conference scheduled for October in Emporia has been canceled.

In addition to shutting down the Kansas Main Street Program, George said, several other divisions will be downsized or merged.

“The department must restructure in order to meet expected smaller state and federal budgets moving forward,” he said. “In addition, the department also must focus on core functions that will provide the greatest opportunities to develop the best business environment and to increase private-sector job growth for Kansas.”