Georgia Cities Foundation Celebrates 20 Years

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Geor­gia Cities Foundation (GCF). Since GCF’s founding, Georgia’s downtowns have improved significantly due to the foundation’s programs and services. This impact includes:

277 new downtown businesses

1,573 new jobs

$133.9 million in private investments

Eight cultural facilities

288 downtown housing units

157 hotel units

1,264,235 square feet of redevelopment floor area

193,583 square feet of new construction

Georgia Cities Foundation Milestones

In 2011, a Special Downtown Development Task Force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and GCF President Mike Starr, recommended the creation of a Downtown Capacity Building Partnership, which is named the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Part­nership. The Partnership, consisting of GMA and the GCF, and the University of Georgia, works in coop­eration with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Downtown Association to as­sist cities and local leaders focus on the importance of downtown planning and visioning.
In 2017, the longstanding Heart & Soul mobile workshop format was replaced with two stand-alone downtown workshops for city officials. These six-hour workshops target municipal officials and key city staff that are interested in downtown revitalization.

“Workshop participants are provided opportuni­ties to view actual plans and projects with officials from the host city discuss­ing their downtown and neighborhood strategies, their success stories and their lessons learned,” said Stephanie Aylworth, GMA downtown development man­ager.
In 2018, GCF in conjunction with GMA launched the Georgia Placemaking Collaborative pilot program. The Placemaking Collaborative is a three-year program designed to help selected cities develop durable local partnerships to address their most important economic and quality of life issues. Utilizing a structure similar in design to the highly successful Georgia Initiative for Community Housing model, the Placemaking Collaborative offers commu­nities a program of collaboration, training, network­ing and technical assistance. The goal of the Georgia Placemaking Collabora­tive is to identify the unique as­sets of a community to create and develop strategies and outcomes around quality of life and economic sus­tainability.

The GCF also recogniz­es an individual or organi­zation that has made a sig­nificant contribution to the revitalization of one or more downtowns in Georgia, through its annual Renaissance Award pro­gram. Individuals and organizations from the private sector, non-profit, civic, philanthropic and academic communities are eligible to receive the award. The Renaissance Award is presented each June in Savannah during GMA’s Annual Convention.