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Main Street-style program pitched to city

CAO assistant director proposing umbrella group of local organizations, city

Each year thousands of visitors stream into the city of Ironton to take advantage of one community event or another. One local leader wants to see the city make the most of its assets to continue attracting these visitors and do it in a cohesive, unified manner.

Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Assistant Director Ralph Kline met with city leaders Saturday to discuss the feasibility of having a Main Street or Main Street-style organization.

Kline’s point is this: A number of downtown events and attractions are bringing in people from out of town (think Rally On The River, Memorial Day Parade and Gus Macker).

Some new things on the horizon (a riverfront park, a new farmer’s market) will likely bring even more. To foster this influx of people, Kline would like to see a coordinated effort between the numerous groups and the city under the umbrella of one lead organization.

Kline told city leaders he would like to see the reactivation of a Main Street board and a staff person hired to handle daily promotional activities and coordinate between the different groups.

“At this point I’m not proposing we join the national organization (of Main Street) but have a non-profit organization for local groups to join and make joint decisions,” Kline said.

The program would be started the first year with $100,000 in seed money from several sources including the Ironton Port Authority, Ironton-Lawrence County CAO, the Lawrence County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and possibly the county and city governments.

Kline is requesting $25,000 each from the city and the county for the seed money. After that, the $115,000 annual operating budget would come from payment in lieu of real estate taxes (PILT) monies from the Berg and Brumberg buildings and the new St. Mary’s Medical Center Ironton campus as well as a part of the new income taxes the city will get from the new medical campus.