This article appeared in the February 2019 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
his year marks the 20th anniversary of the Georgia Cities Foundation (GCF). Since GCF’s founding, Georgia’s downtowns have improved significantly due to the foundation’s programs and services. This impact includes:
Georgia Cities Foundation Milestones
- 277 new downtown businesses
- 1,573 new jobs
- $133.9 million in private investments
- Eight cultural facilities
- 288 downtown housing units
- 157 hotel units
- 1,264,235 square feet of redevelopment floor area
- 193,583 square feet of new construction
In 2011, a Special Downtown Development Task Force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and GCF President Mike Starr, recommended the creation of a Downtown Capacity Building Partnership, which is named the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership. The Partnership, consisting of GMA and the GCF, and the University of Georgia, works in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Downtown Association to assist cities and local leaders focus on the importance of downtown planning and visioning.
In 2017, the longstanding Heart & Soul mobile workshop format was replaced with two stand-alone downtown workshops for city officials. These six-hour workshops target municipal officials and key city staff that are interested in downtown revitalization.
“Workshop participants are provided opportunities to view actual plans and projects with officials from the host city discussing their downtown and neighborhood strategies, their success stories and their lessons learned,” said Stephanie Aylworth, GMA downtown development manager.
In 2018, GCF in conjunction with GMA launched the Georgia Placemaking Collaborative pilot program. The Placemaking Collaborative is a three-year program designed to help selected cities develop durable local partnerships to address their most important economic and quality of life issues. Utilizing a structure similar in design to the highly successful Georgia Initiative for Community Housing model, the Placemaking Collaborative offers communities a program of collaboration, training, networking and technical assistance. The goal of the Georgia Placemaking Collaborative is to identify the unique assets of a community to create and develop strategies and outcomes around quality of life and economic sustainability.
The GCF also recognizes an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to the revitalization of one or more downtowns in Georgia, through its annual Renaissance Award program. Individuals and organizations from the private sector, non-profit, civic, philanthropic and academic communities are eligible to receive the award. The Renaissance Award is presented each June in Savannah during GMA’s Annual Convention.