Take a stroll around history and beauty. This is just a small vision of what Georgia’s downtown areas offer. In 1980 Georgia’s Main Street program began helping represent strong central business districts throughout the state. Main Street is a nationally accredited non-profit program whose mission is to promote, maintain and revitalize historic downtown districts. Georgia Main Street is housed in the office of downtown development at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in Atlanta.
The City Menus was fortunate to listen to a wonderful presentation from Jessica Reynolds, director of downtown development for Georgia Main Street. The presentation was given at the April Rise-n-Shine networking event in Villa Rica, Georgia.
No matter which city you are reading this from, we all know that our downtown offers the highest concentration of small businesses, a sense of place, and large public investment, and that our downtowns are the yardstick of community support. Jessica states, “For every one dollar spent Downtown, it equals twenty-six dollars in return, Main Street downtown is the best investment to make in the community.”
Jessica helped shape Carrollton’s downtown from 2008 until 2013. Her achievements and community collaborations have continued to flow through the present day from other Main Street directors in Carrollton, specifically.
The 2018 Georgia Main Street impacts included over 3.28 million people visiting downtown areas across Georgia. Additionally, 684 businesses completed rehab projects equaling 75 million dollars in direct costs. There were 448 completed public improvement projects that add up to 58 million dollars spent. New housing was added with 796 housing units equaling 134 million dollars spent in construction. Jessica tells us, “Residential is a key component which creates a place for people to live, living is the key, people are moving into downtown areas.”
With people moving downtown, over 1,000 new businesses across Georgia opened in 2018, equalling 4,000 net jobs in downtown areas, which is up by five percent compared to 2017.
There are several standards that have to be met by Georgia Main Street’s criteria. For example, to be either one of the Main Street classic designations, an affiliate or a GEM, which is the ‘best of the best’. Jessica tells us, “We have 70 classics, 29 affiliates, and 16 GEMS in the state of Georgia. Villa Rica, Carrollton, and Bowdon are all classics in the West Georgia region, and Newnan along with Rome are two of our sixteen GEM communities in the state.”
Jessica goes on to say, “Georgia is leading the way in the United States, economic vitality is strong, we are focusing on what is trending downtown in the variety of stores, working on vacancies, and approaching inconsistencies in store hours.”
When asked about Newnan’s status as a Georgia Main Street GEM, she shared, “Some of the characterics of a GEM city are stable leadership – success rises and falls on leadership – and a strong historic preservation ethic.”
Continue reading about Georgia Main Street by clicking here.