Pilot Program Looks to Steer Success Downtown

June 8, 2012

Six Georgia cities are participating in an 18-month pilot program to focus on job growth and creation in Georgia's historic downtowns. Columbus, Cordele, Ellijay, Jefferson, Madison and Woodstock are participating in the Building Opportunity on Main Street pilot program, a partnership of GMA, the Georgia Cities Foundation and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Meeting together in Woodstock for the first time on May 10, community leaders identified key elements for creating success in downtown:
  • A common vision and universal message
  • “Downtown infrastructure” including streetscapes, traffic management and housing opportunities 
  • Community services that support businesses including permitting and process assistance, clean-up services and city maintenance 
  • Employer incentives
Monica Branch, Main Street manager of Cordele, told the group, “We hear from our Industrial Development Authority that businesses interested in our community always want to see downtown. If we don’t take care of our history and our families, how will we take care of new businesses?”

DCA, the Georgia Cities Foundation, GMA and these cities will apply a variety of tools and resources in the historic downtown core of each city, focusing on redeveloping areas to stimulate job growth.

“We’re focused on rebuilding our communities and making them places where families can live, work and play. What better place to start than in our downtowns, the places that are full of Georgia’s history and culture, and already have water, sewer, electricity, streets and sidewalks in place?” asked DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty. “These six cities have demonstrated their desire and ability to make change - so we’re going to partner with them to help them change the job scene in their downtowns.”

“Downtown is where economic development really takes place,” said GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton. “We want to make sure cities have the tools they need to create successful, thriving downtowns.”

Georgia’s 100 Main Street cities generated 592 new businesses in 2011 in their downtowns, according to the Department's research. When the BoomTown pilot is complete, DCA’s Main Street program will take the lessons learned to cities across the state.

For more information, contact Billy Parrish at billy.parrish@dca.ga.gov.