Three local officials represented Bryan County in a two-day Main Street Institute workshop, where they completed training and hands-on experience geared toward downtown revitalization efforts throughout Georgia.
City Developer Wynn Carney and Better Hometown Manager Tonya Raulerson represented Pembroke and Community Developer Jan Bass represented Richmond Hill on March 12-14 in Statesboro.
Carney said the training opened everybody’s eyes to new and different ideas about downtown development. Bass agreed, noting the training provided a great opportunity and helped reassure her Richmond Hill is on the right track.
"History, a sense of place and economic development in the heart of the city is essential for a successful downtown," she said. "New ideas and shared success stories from around the state about economic development were very helpful. Many of the concepts will work well in our size community, with participation and input from community members."
As a small city, Bass said Richmond Hill has been working hard to create a downtown of distinction.
She said the program reiterated many of the concepts they’re trying to achieve.
"The program stressed that the ideas of active community involvement, public-private partnerships and historic preservation are extremely vital to the success of this type of program," she said, noting an active participation from new members of the community can only make it stronger.
Raulerson also agreed the program provided a lot of useful information.
"Everything they put out on the table, as far as ideas or examples of things cities have done, it gets you excited and ready to do things in your own community," she said. "We’ve got some projects underway in Pembroke and they gave us some funding ideas during the seminar, so hopefully we can start with those soon."
Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Mike Beatty extended congratulations to the nearly 100 Georgia downtown managers who completed the training. The DCA’s Office of Downtown Development coordinated the session.
"Main Street Institute sessions are structured to give downtown revitalization professionals a firm foundation in downtown development," Beatty said in a press release. "Since the program’s inception, more than 500 downtown managers and community leaders representing large and small Georgia communities have participated. The results speak for themselves. Those Georgia communities that have embraced the concepts and implemented the training have seen their former downtown areas reborn as preferred places to live, work and play."
Throughout the two-day workshop, attendees heard from veteran downtown professionals representing the cities of Madison, Rome, Savannah and Valdosta as well as from officials of the DCA, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
For more information, visit www.mainstreetgeorgia.com.