Last updated: August 26. 2014 3:08PM - 1335 Views
Special to Civitas Media

Photo submitted by DDMDDM Executive Director Isaac Kremer, left, with Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone Coordinator Sandi Curd.
Photo submitted by DDMDDM Executive Director Isaac Kremer, left, with Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone Coordinator Sandi Curd.
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The Preservation Green Lab and the National Main Street Center, nonprofit subsidiaries of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, celebrated Middlesboro as one of the first pilot communities to participate in “America Saves!”

The new program is designed to create and support the economic success of main street communities and other small-scale commercial districts by improving building performance and energy efficiency. Supported by a $2 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy, “America Saves!” will drive cost savings and new investment in existing buildings in main street communities across the country. This project is also the first officially designated project in the Southeast Kentucky Promise Zone to receive funding.

An accredited main street program, Downtown Middlesboro will spearhead the project in its community. Using their relationships and volunteers, they will promote and connect business and building owners to the America Saves project.

Main Street networks support participants as they learn how their facilities use energy and consider options for improving buildings and energy-using building systems. The main street networks will identify community partners and organize volunteers to support building information collection efforts in their community. The National Trust is offering small grants to help in the local program rollout efforts.

“We are thrilled to be the first community in Appalachian Kentucky participating in the “America Saves!” program. This presents a special opportunity to achieve cost savings for businesses in our area and to continue strengthening or local and regional economy,” said Discover Downtown Middlesboro President Jay Shoffner. “We’re grateful to America Saves, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and all of our partners for their continued help and support.”

The “America Saves!” team is comprised of a consortium of national building, preservation, data analysis and energy efficiency experts that will support communities in their efforts to help local businesses and building owners save money on their energy bills. Those participating in the program receive energy use information guidance around facility improvements and information on programs and incentives that they can use to implement upgrades.

“National Main Street Center is grateful for the participation of Downtown Middlesboro in America Saves, and we look forward to our continued work together through the project and beyond,” said Carolyn Dellutri, Senior Director of Programs and Services, National Main Street Center. “This project offers an exciting opportunity for main street communities, and we are thrilled to have such an eager pilot community like Middlesboro leading the way.”

“For the first time, we’re able to bring best practices and resources to small businesses and small buildings, and it’s the strength of Main Streets that makes it possible,” said Mark Huppert, Senior Director of the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab, which is leading the DOE-funded initiative. “Harvesting energy efficiency from small buildings is like striking oil, except it’s local, clean and keeps dollars in our local economies. The savings can produce local investment, including jobs.”

Discover Downtown Middlesboro is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded in 2006. Since that time the organization has worked to spearhead revitalization of the downtown area. In May 2014 Downtown Middlesboro was one of two communities nationally named “Ones to Watch” by the National Main Street Center for innovative projects and being on the cusp of a major transformation.

DDM is in the pre-development phase for the 27,000 square foot Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Home that the organization owns. Presently a development partner is being sought to help bring this vibrant mixed-use project to market. In 2013, a total of $2.7 million of public and private investment was made downtown. There were 10 new businesses that opened and over 100 jobs were created in 2013.

The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) supports the America Saves program in Middlesboro by helping commercial facilities energy audits and affordable energy savings loans to help owners get energy savings sooner.

MACED invests in the future of Kentucky’s energy systems to create new economic opportunities, promote environmental health and grow a more diverse energy portfolio in the state. Growing energy efficiency efforts that reduce consumption and save money, along with promoting renewable energy sources such as solar, help build a stronger, more sustainable regional economy.

For more information or to participate in the program, please contact Discover Downtown Middlesboro at (606) 248-6155 or downtownmiddlesboro.org. We’re also on Twitter and Facebook @DDMBoro.

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