#446. Paducah, KY – Artists’ Destination

Posted on | The Agurban

Paducah, KY – Artists’ Destination

For as long as I have been doing Boomtown talks, I have been telling the story of Paducah, Kentucky, and the revitalization of their LowerTown area into an artists’ haven. In 2000, the city of Paducah decided they wanted to, they needed to, transform this section of their city into something positive, something far away from the drug use, crack sales, and prostitution that had taken over. Within two years, 24 people signed on to purchase either an empty lot or vacant house for $1, and build or renovate to create their very own studio.

“The idea for the Arts District was simple: You can live here, you can work here, and you can sell your art here,” states Noah Adams with radio program producer NPR. (See entire NPR story here.)

Paducah has spent $9 million over 13 years to clean up LowerTown on things like new lighting, sidewalks and keeping empty lots mowed. However, as Steve Doolittle, a Paducah city planner points out, “the private investment now exceeds $40 million.”

What NPR doesn’t state in this article about the remarkable story of Paducah, is the impact that one local banker and bank had in the turn-around.  Joe Framptom, CEO of Paducah Bank, set up a special $1 million loan fund that jump-started this effort.  It was a risky proposition by a gutsy banker who understood the importance of a revitalized LowerTown.

Local bankers are the backbone of every small town.  We need more Joe Framptoms and I’m hopeful that the continuing consolidation of banks will slow.  We need more small banks, not less.

To learn more about Paducah’s Artist Relocation Program, visit here.