Panelists talk about reviving downtown areas at SOAR summit

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - A major focus from the first day of SOAR is revitalizing downtown communities here in the mountains.

Main Street programs exist in several cities, and according to the Corbin Tourism Director, Maggy Monhollen, they require investment.

“It’s all about small business and growth in your downtown and it’s really what attracts people to your area,” she said.

Revitalization is a process. One that starts by inspiring a sense of pride in the local community.

“It’s important to inspire your community and get them revved up about making Main Street alive again,” said Monhollen. “It is a very long process; it’s taken Corbin about 10 years to fully revitalize our area.”

Then, she said, you work to build a community that’s attractive to travelers.

“It makes all the difference when your community is excited,” she said. “It spreads to the tourists that come, the guests that are coming to your community, like the SOAR Summit.”

The result, nearly a decade later for Monhollen in Corbin, has been great.

“I always say at the end of the day that supporting a small business is supporting someone’s dream,” she said. “So, when your Main Street comes alive again its someone’s dream coming true.”

The panelists added that underserved groups are often overlooked, but are some of the biggest supporters of community improvement projects.

After the days events at The Corbin Arena, participants went downtown to celebrate a productive day.

While 500 people were expected at the reception, turnout was a little light after a small rain storm moved through the area.

Despite that, SOAR goers had great businesses and live music to enjoy.

”I’m sure for Corbin it’s been a big boost,” said Mayor of Prestonsburg, Les Stapleton at the reception. “Both economically with the heads in the beds and people eating and stuff like that. But just the fact that people get to see this wonderful town as you can see over my should here.”

Meeting colleagues from across the region at the reception is a critical part of SOAR, according to Stapleton.

”Get their ideas, take them back to your town, tweak them a little and make them yours,” he said. “You know, we’re all sharing the same ideas we just our region to prosper.”

The SOAR Summit will conclude on Thursday.

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