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Living large in a small town

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By Janet Robb

Many words are used to describe small towns and Kim Huston is trying out a new one – sexy.

In her book “Small Town Sexy: The Allure of Living in Small Town America,” Huston describes the seductive and alluring qualities of small-town America.

“I think small towns tend to have a bad rap with visions of tumble weeds blowing through the streets,” she said. “There are so many growing and I wanted to draw attention to those and that you can live large in small towns.”

Raised in Bloomfield, Huston shared her views and ideas for small-town development at Thursday’s Spencer County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“First impressions are important for small towns,” Huston said. “Main Street is the face of the community. Your downtown is incredibly beautiful and you’re doing a good job with that.” She said a good community Web site, branding, gateways, welcome signs and community ambassadors are important to make a good first impression.

Chamber President Kerry Stevenson said business owners and the public can help make a positive first impression.

“We need to get the word out about what Taylorsville has to offer,” she said. “Our main attraction is the lake and we need to figure out ways to get people from the lake to Main Street. The Main Street Committee is working hard to bring people downtown and they’ve come up with lots of ideas.”

To help find ways to market Taylorsville, Stevenson said the chamber has also reached out to other communities to see what has and hasn’t worked for them.

In addition to first impressions, Huston said it’s important to nurture what’s already in a community. “More than 90 percent of small-town businesses employ less than 50 people,” Huston said. “You have to put emphasis on this because this is the heart and soul of the community.”

Communities spend so much time trying to figure out how to bring people back that they forget about those who chose to stay here, Huston shared.

“People running our community were people who never left,” she said. “The ones who stayed here need to be engaged and involved. They chose to be here.”

“Once people read the book, they understood the title and it made more sense because sexy is about the seduction and alluring aspects of small towns,” Huston said. “It’s the seductive charm.”

A former broadcast journalist, Huston is president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency in Bardstown, where she oversees all economic development activities.

She also serves on the Kentucky Association for Economic Development Board of Directors, chairman of the Lincoln Trail Area Development District Workforce Investment Board and co-chairs the WIRED65 Initiative.

Huston donated a copy of the book to the Spencer County Public Library.