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Cairo selected for Main Street start-up program

Cairo is one of 19 new Georgia cities selected to be a part of the Main Street Start-up Program, which provides technical assistance to communities looking to improve their downtowns.
“It’s a two-year process that we have to go through to become a Main Street City, so we’re in a good position,” says Chris Addleton, city manager of Cairo. “This dovetails with what we’ve been doing with Archway and our downtown issue workgroup and the Transportation Enhancement Grant.” The transportation grant is the money Cairo earned to pay for the first phase of the downtown streetscape renovation, which is expected to begin sometime in the coming year.
The cities selected by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to participate in the Main Street Start-up Program will work during 2014 to meet state and national criteria to become designated Main Street programs eligible for national accreditation by 2015.
There were 25 cities across the state that applied to the 2014-2015 program, the largest single group of applicants in the history of the Georgia Main Street Program. Collectively, they represent 284,503 citizens, $1.8 million in available local downtown program funding and 10 service delivery regions of the state.
“In line with national trends, Georgia has seen renewed interest in downtown revitalization. We’re committed to helping our communities become great places to live, work and play, and our Main Street Program is one of our best examples of our technical assistance to Georgia’s local governments,” said Gretchen Corbin, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which houses the Main Street program.
“A viable downtown is the cornerstone of our quality of life and everything we do,” agrees Addleton, “it gives us a sense of identity; it attracts business and industry and residents. We need to be proud of our downtown.”
Celeste Tyler, director of marketing for the City of Cairo, will serve as the Main Street official for Cairo and will attend the required training in February, according to Addleton.
Focusing on four core areas: design (what downtown looks like and how it functions); organization (the people and organizations that will do the work); economic restructuring (the types of businesses that will work in a particular downtown); and promotion (helping others understand how and why downtown is great), the Main Street program has assisted cities across Georgia since 1980.
The other cities selected for the start-up in addition to Cairo are: Albany, Ashburn, Auburn, Avondale Estates, Ball Ground, Bowdon, Braselton, Chamblee, Grayson, Hinesville, Holly Springs, Lawrenceville, Perry, Porterdale, Ringgold, Stockbridge, Swainsboro and Sylvester.
These communities will work to join 96 other cities across Georgia in the Main Street program. The Department of Community Affairs will provide substantial technical assistance to these communities, including help with board and leadership development, the creation of two- and five-year work plans, development of program budgets and preparation of each to meet the 10 standards set forth by the National Main Street Center, which is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Georgia Main Street Program,” said Billy Peppers, Director of the Office of Downtown Development. “Georgia was one of the first states in the country to be a part of the national Main Street program, and because of this, Georgia’s downtowns have seen more than $3 billion in impact since 1980, along with the creation of more than 58,000 net new jobs. Georgia’s downtowns are truly open for business.”
The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a proven methodology that empowers communities to utilize their distinctive assets, such as their independent businesses and historic character, to revive their commercial districts, strengthen local economies and increase civic engagement. Since 1977, the Main Street Four-Point Approach® to downtown revitalization has been used by more than 2,000 communities nationwide to stimulate more than 235,000 building rehabilitation projects and create 475,000 jobs.

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