The Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Office of Downtown Development (ODD) is pleased to announce a new selection process for becoming a designated Georgia Main Street / Better Hometown City. Based upon 25 years of field-based experience, it has been decided to shift the selection process for new Main Street / Better Hometown cities from a yearly application round (when resources permitted) to a “readiness-based” process that encourages interested cities to undertake the Main Street Four-Point Approach™ to downtown revitalization prior to inclusion into the program.
Achieving designation will require that a community master the Georgia Main Street / Better Hometown Program’s Minimum Standards, which are primarily based on the National Main Street Center’s Accreditation Standards. Mastering the Minimum Program Standards gives the new Main Street / Better Hometown City its very best chance of success, and means that the new city comes into the program committed to a long-term revitalization effort - a process that takes time and requires leadership and local capacity building.
Detailed below are the steps necessary to become an Official Main Street / Better Hometown Start-up Community.
- Community Request from Mayor and sponsoring organization for initial on-site visit and/or additional information about the Georgia Main Street/Better Hometown program and other downtown development services.
- Initial On-Site Visit by ODD Staff (this visit will be made regardless of whether exploring Main Street / Better Hometown designation or the Affiliate Option)
During this visit, ODD staff will meet with key stakeholders and Mayor to provide information / orientation session, outline the steps / process, discuss expectations and answer questions.
In addition, ODD staff will determine during the site visit whether the downtown district has sufficient quantity and quality of historic downtown structures to launch a successful Main Street-based downtown program as defined in Minimum Standard #4. This determination is necessary for Georgia to remain a nationally certified Main Street ™ Program. If sufficient critical mass of historic structures does not currently exist, then the city will be encouraged to consider the ODD Affiliate Program.
Staff will provide a “To-Do Checklist” which will guide the program towards meeting minimum standards.
After the initial site visit, periodic check-ins will occur to review ensure progress.
- Letter of Commitment and DCA Response (Standardized Letter)
In order to move forward with the Start-up Process, the community must submit a signed letter of commitment after the initial on-site visit. The letter will outline the threshold criteria, specify the “to-do checklist” (for the 6 – 24 month period) and state the community’s intention to complete the Start-up Process within the maximum allotted time. Also, detail the background of the city’s downtown revitalization efforts and show public/private support for Main Street /Better Hometown designation.
Should a community choose not to pursue Better Hometown / Main Street designation, but still have an interest in downtown revitalization based on the four-point approach, the community might consider the Office of Downtown Development Affiliate Option.
The start-up period begins with DCA’s response letter. The response letter will reiterate the Minimum Standards for inclusion into the program and outline areas that need to be addressed in order for ODD to accept the community into the Start-up Program. The letter will also acknowledge the checklist developed by the community and the Regional Downtown Representative as the road map for successful designation. Also included in the letter will be a schedule for completion as well as benchmarks for successful completion. Communities will be reminded that they have not yet been designated as a Main Street / Better Hometown City and therefore, do not have the right to use the Main Street or Better Hometown name and/or logo.
- On-site Checklist/ Minimum Standards Assessment Completed
ODD will conduct an on-site assessment visit in the Start-up Community. The Start-up assessment visit is designed to be similar to the ones conducted in designated Better Hometown / Main Street cities, however, in addition to evaluating the community on the minimum standards, ODD will also determine if the program has successfully completed its “to do checklist” (as outlined in the letter of commitment). Start-up communities will be required to submit assessment documentation to the ODD Regional Representative 30 days in advance of the visit.
View the Main Street_Better Hometown Start-Up Checklist
If the Start-up Program has successfully completed the checklist and demonstrated that it meets the minimum standards, the ODD Regional Representative will submit the program’s assessment materials for final approval.
Should the ODD Regional Representative conclude that the Start-up does not meet the minimum standards (and/or was unsuccessful in completing the to-do checklist), he/she will prepare an assessment report outlining the concerns. The community must then sit-out a minimum of twelve months before going back through the Start-up Phase. We encourage the community to continue to work on the minimum standards over the next 12 months; however, start-up technical assistance will cease.
Start-up Time Frame
During the 6-24 months that a community is in the Start-up Phase, the primary focus of the community and ODD assistance should be on building a strong foundation.
- The minimum amount of time a community can spend in the Start-up Phase is 6 months.
- The maximum amount of time a community can spend in the Start-up Phase is 24 months.
DCA has the right to pull the plug on a Start-up Program at anytime if it appears that substantial progress is not being made.
If you have questions, please contact Billy Peppers, Office of Downtown Development at 404-679-3101 or firstname.lastname@example.org