The Georgia Main Street program focuses on cities with a population between 5,000 and 50,000 and also includes a small-cities program called the Better Hometown program, which focuses on cities with a population less than 5,000.
The Main Street program focuses on historic preservation as a tool for downtown redevelopment.
Like a lot of cities, LaFayette has seen many of its retail shops close or move out of downtown, Mayor Neal Florence said.
When residents and business owners asked for help to revitalize downtown, we asked the state to work with us to implement the Main Street program here.
Rome has been using the Main Street model for 25 years, Florence said.
Anyone who remembers downtown Rome before that can appreciate the improvements the program has made in that areas appearance, safety and economic vitality.
We believe LaFayette will achieve similar successes.
What is the Georgia Main Street program?
The Georgia Main Street program focuses on cities with a population between 5,000 and 50,000 and also includes a small-cities program called the Better Hometown Program, which focuses on cities with a population less than 5,000.
To date, there are approximately 100 Georgia cities involved in these programs.
The Main Street & Better Hometown programs develop local vision and leadership while actively facilitating the economic development of downtown using the National Main Street Centers 4-point Approach: Organization, Design, Economic Restructuring and Promotion. Each designated city receives technical assistance, manager and board training, regional networking sessions and resources, which assist the local communitys efforts to build a stronger local economy through revitalization of the downtown area.
Since Georgias programs were launched in 1980 and through 2006, the state and participating local governments have invested $561 million in their downtowns, said Billy Parrish, director of Georgia Department of Community Affairs Office of Downtown Development.
This public investment has been followed by $1.2 billion in private investment dollars.
The combined total of $1.7 billion in public and private investment has helped revitalized Georgias Better Hometown and Main Street communities, creating more than 37,000 net new jobs and 8,000 net new businesses.
The Main Street program uses a comprehensive revitalization process originated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In 1980, Georgia became one of six pilot states to launch a statewide Main Street program of downtown economic development.
Its comprehensive approach seeks to integrate a locally-driven management strategy with a focus on the physical improvement of buildings and public spaces, aggressive promotion, image building and economic development of the downtown area.
LaFayette is one of three new designees and joins Villa Rica and Pembroke as 2007 Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown cities.
Each city will be honored at a breakfast in conjunction with the Georgia Municipal Association Annual Convention in Savannah on June 25.
LaFayette Downtown Development Authority, or DDA, functions as the Main Street board of directors and guided the program through the 18-month designation process.
LaFayettes residents, business owners and officials pulled together to show their commitment to redevelop downtown, DDA Chairman Bob Hannah said.
Rather than being the end of a process, designation marks the beginning of the next phase of our redevelopment efforts.
We expect this program to grow each year and to tackle larger projects as funding grows.
LaFayettes Main Street program is working so well because of its strong partnerships with our local banks, schools, library, small businesses, civic groups, historical society and media, and the support of our citizens, City Manager Johnnie Arnold said.
The city attorney is drafting an ordinance amendment to allow upstairs residences in the downtown business district, he said.
Many cities that have permitted upstairs residence have seen their downtowns revitalized.
Some of the programs greatest successes have been completing the first facade-grant-funded project at Chapmans Jewelry, Shear Time and Buttercup Alley, and art projects coordinated with local schools, LaFayette Main Street and Economic Development Director Catherine Edgemon said.
Students at LaFayette Middle School, LaFayette Sixth Grade Academy and Gilbert Elementary created portraits of downtown buildings, and downtown business owners displayed those portraits in their windows last fall.
Economic restructuring committee chairman Gretchen Neal and her husband, state Rep. Jay Neal, donated a pair of football tickets for a fundraiser that netted $300 to purchase savings bonds for the winners of the building portrait contest.
Working with the Main Street program has been a win-win for all of us, Gilbert Elementary teacher Chris Sandow said.
Students learn more about their community and feel a connection to the historic business district when they participate in these projects.
It makes them proud when their art is displayed at City Hall or in a store window for everyone to see.
More on LaFayette Downtown Development Authority
The LaFayette Downtown Development Authority meets on the second Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall at 207 S. Duke St.
The economic restructuring committee focuses on facade grants, fundraising and business recruitment; it meets on the second Monday at 2 p.m. at City Hall.
The design committee focuses on historic preservation projects; it meets on the second Monday at 5 p.m. at Music on the Square, 101-A E. Patton St.
The organization committee educates the community about the Main Street program and involves community stakeholders; it meets on the second Thursday at noon at Music on the Square.
The promotions committee works on tourism and organizes special events; it meets at 2 p.m. on the second Thursday at Music on the Square.
All meetings are open to the public.
Meeting schedules are regular meeting dates and times, and may be subject to change.
For more information about meetings or the Main Street program, call the LaFayette Main Street and Economic Development Department at (706) 639-1519.
The DDA is working with art teachers on projects that are part of the Main Street programs observance for National Preservation Month.
Art instructor Liz Horniks eighth-grade students are excited about the planned spring project, a glass mural featuring native plants and animals.
My kids are mostly excited about breaking glass and making something that will go on display somewhere in town permanently, Hornik said.
The art project coincided with phase one of Chattooga Academys rehabilitation, which will replace the roof and rebuild the first floor structure, Edgemon said.
The academy is believed to be the states oldest remaining brick schoolhouse.
Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg is said to have planned the Battle of Chickamauga while sitting under a tree on the school grounds.
The DDA also expects to launch its website soon, she said.
That site will feature a list of local businesses, a Business of the Month spotlight and calendar of community events.
I grew up here and moved back last year, DDA board member Frances Cobb said.
Cobb serves on the Promotions Committee.
I got involved in Main Street because I believe in downtown and want to invest in LaFayettes future, she said.
I urge business people and residents if they want to make a difference in their community to get involved in Main Street.
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