WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Officials in Whitesburg are celebrating as another new business opens on Main Street. The city has been taking steps to revitalize its downtown area and encourage growth.
Downtown Whitesburg, like the downtowns of many cities in Eastern Kentucky, had fallen on hard times.
"Whitesburg has a wonderful Main Street, that has all these great historic buildings that had kind of seen better days, had got kind of run down but structurally were amazing," said Amelia Kirby, co-owner of Summit City Lounge in Whitesburg.
Storefronts remain empty in parts of downtown Whitesburg, however new businesses have begun to spring up. Those business owners say they want to revitalize the town and make it a nicer place to live.
"We looked at some of the things that Whitesburg at that point didn't really have, was the things that we left town to find, you know it was live music, some nicer restaurants art galleries," Kirby said.
As young entrepreneurs began to invest in the city, the city and county governments began to work on a county-wide development plan that called for several beautification projects and improvements to traffic flow. Work has already begun on some of those improvements. Officials say five new businesses have set up shop downtown since last February.
"That's pretty good for an economy that's been hard hit and impacted negatively as ours has been from loss of jobs in the coal industry," said Letcher County Tourism Board Chair David Narramore.
The latest business - bakery - opened earlier this month. Officials hope to see more shops open in the months to come.
Officials have not set a completion date on the Whitesburg streetscape project. They say the work will be completed in phases as funding becomes available.