The Georgia Department of Community Affairs' Office of Downtown Development (ODD) coordinates the Georgia Main Street and Better Hometown programs. These programs assist Georgia cities and neighborhoods in the development of their core commercial areas. Assistance provided by ODD emphasizes community-based, self-help efforts grounded in the principles of professional, comprehensive management of core commercial districts. Communities are expected to work within the context of historic preservation and the National Main Street Center's Four-point Approach to Downtown Revitalization™: Organization, Design, Economic Restructuring and Promotion.
Georgia Main Street Communities Map
National Accreditation Standards of Performance
History and Overview of the Georgia Main Street / Better Hometown Program
Policy on the Use of the Name Main Street
Begun in 1980, the Georgia Main Street Program our flagship downtown development assistance program. Main Street is a self-help community development program designed to improve a downtown’s quality of life. The program includes a small-cities program called the Better Hometown Program, which focuses on cities with a population less than 5,000 and the “Classic” Main Street Program, which focuses on cities with a population between 5,000 and 50,000 and. To date, there are approximately 93 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 Center’s 4-point Approach®: Organization, Design, Economic Restructuring and Promotion. Each designated city receives technical assistance, manager/board training, regional networking sessions and resources, which assist the local community in their efforts to build a stronger local economy through revitalization of the downtown area.
Downtown development in Georgia has proven to be an essential part of a community's overall economic development strategy. It can be argued that a healthy and vibrant city or town center is one of the most important elements of an effective economic development program. Even if people do not live in the city-proper, polls have shown that people identify with their nearest city or town and view it as their hometown. These same polls have shown overwhelmingly that people value a safe, vibrant and healthy downtown. The downtown area of a city is often the largest employer in a city - it is almost always in the top three! The collection of retail, office, governmental and service workers located in downtown can be from the low hundreds in a small town to over a thousand in a larger city. And these jobs are by their very nature diversified, so that most downtowns remain a strong and flexible employment center.
Downtown is also critical in the development of cultural and heritage tourism. Studies have shown that small towns and historic places are second only to beaches in terms of the most desirable places to visit, and a city's downtown and surrounding neighborhoods are the embodiment of the history and culture of a community.
Downtown is also a ready-made business incubator, particularly for small service-based businesses that need limited space at an affordable rate. And since 80% of all workers are employed in small businesses across America, downtowns continue to provide reasonable space for the emerging small businesses that form the backbone of the American economy.
All across Georgia, downtowns are experiencing a shift in housing, with everything from small-scale upper floor rehabilitations for apartments to the construction of major new developments in and around downtown. In the smallest to the largest of cities, investors are discovering the benefits of investing in our downtowns and people are discovering the joys and benefits of living downtown.
Finally, investing in downtown development has returned some significant dividends statewide. Since 1980, in Georgia Better Hometown and Main Street Cities, over 9,700 new businesses and over 49,000 new jobs have been created in cities under 50,000 in population, for a total public and private sector investment of over $2.7 Billion! That is reason enough for city leaders to continue to nurture the heart and soul of their city - its downtown.
For more information on the Georgia Main Street Program, contact Billy Peppers, Office of Downtown Development at 404-679-3101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.