Attracting small businesses through Showcase Paducah

Forbes.com says more than 50 percent of the working population works in a small business. Paducah Main Street is striving to bring in more of these businesses through Showcase Paducah.

Paducah Main Street Director Melinda Winchester is spreading the word that downtown and LowerTown have 30 properties for sale.

“We are marketing in St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, all over southeast Missouri southern Illinois,” Winchester said.

She started Showcase Paducah last year as an easy way to expose people to what Paducah has to offer.

“It’s also an opportunity for people who might have general questions about opening a business or 'How do I do a business or marketing plan?' We are going to have a specialist here to talk to people for free about that,” Winchester said.

Winchester says 21 new businesses opened up in either downtown or LowerTown last year, four of them in downtown, because of Paducah Showcase.

Their sell? Incentives to move into historic buildings.

“We have so many historic structures that really require a lot of capital just to get them up to code that you really have to incentivize those structures to get people to take interest in them. So, we have roof stabilization, we have facade grants, we even have a new small business grant for people coming in into downtown, and then the historic tax credits,” Winchester said.

She says small businesses are the backbone of Paducah’s economy and job creation.

“When you look at that, to incentivize our small business, our historic downtown — which really is our destination that visitors are interested in and want to come to — that's why it's really different. Then the big box retailer's chains, we really have to focus on those incentives for those types of businesses for Main Street,” Winchester said.

Southern Suds assistant manager Karen Weatherholtz says the business's rent is lower because it also serves as an information center. That convinced them to open shop in April.

“It is good to put these old buildings back to use and bring life back to downtown Paducah and LowerTown,” Weatherholtz said.

She said since opening she’s amazed at how many people stop in Paducah for the day or even for a few days for a vacation.

Weatherholtz says any incentive helps business owners, not to mention the people who stop by the shop say they enjoy the history.

“People like to see the authenticity of the older homes and buildings, and they like to hear the history,” Weatherholtz said.

It’s not just commercial properties. Residential properties will also be showcased for anyone to check out on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event will also have lice music and a carriage shuttle to take you to all the properties.

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