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May 20, 2014

Downtown touted as one of nation's best

MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville Main Street garnered recognition Sunday that only few communities in Georgia have ever received.

The National Main Street Center announced that Milledgeville was chosen as a 2014 Great American Main Street Awards (GAMSA) winner. Bestowed by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the GAMSA is the nation's premier accolade for downtown revitalization achievement.

Milledgeville Main Street received the award at the 2014 National Main Streets Conference held in Detroit, Mich.

According to a press release on the announcement, communities that demonstrate exemplary achievement in the process of strengthening their downtowns and commercial districts receive this distinguished award.

The city joins only two other communities in Georgia to have received the honor.

Milledgeville Main Street has applied the National Main Street Center's revitalization methodology to make the city of 20,000 a vibrant community in which to live, work play, and visit, according to the press release.

“From its incredibly successful Deep Roots Festival, to its community-funded micro-grants for small businesses, Milledgeville is firmly on the map for its comprehensive downtown revitalization success,” said Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center via press release. “With such a strong foundation already in place, we expect great things from Milledgeville for years to come.”

Critical to downtown's turnaround was the conversion of the historic Campus Theatre by Georgia College into a black box theater, offices and a bookstore. This, coupled with several mixed-use historic rehab projects and significant streetscape improvements has brought a new wave of enthusiasm and investment to downtown Milledgeville.

Since 2004, 55 buildings have been rehabbed, 63 net new businesses opened and $66.5 million invested in the downtown commercial district.

“For Milledgeville Main Street to be recognized as a national model for the comprehensive revitalization of our historic downtown is an honor,” said Carlee Schulte, director of Milledgeville Main Street. “Becoming a Great American Main Street will surely promote tourism and economic development for the area. The recognition this national award will bring to our city will be extremely valuable for continued success and enthusiasm of the program.”

Jane Sowell, executive director for Milledgeville-Baldwin Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she looks forward to the tourism the award will bring to the community as well.

“I’ve always known Milledgeville is a great place to work and live, but this award will not only bring our community together but it will let the nation know just how wonderful our city really is,” she said of the honor Monday afternoon.

Frank Pendergast, Milledgeville Main Street board member, echoed her sentiments.

“Milledgeville is and always has been a very special place,” he said. “The history, the people, the businesses, institutions and the non-profit organizations have all been working to make the city a better place to live.”

He added that being named a Great American Main Street is reflective of everyone’s passion for the community.

“This isn’t an award to any one individual, organization or entity; it is an award to all of Milledgeville.”

The other two 2014 winners are Harrisonburg, Va. and Woodbine, Iowa.

A national seven-member jury composed of former award winners, community development professionals, and governmental agency representatives who are active in community revitalization and historic preservation selected winners. Criteria for winning include: strength of the Main Street in creating an exciting place to live, work, play and visit; commitment to historic preservation; implementation of model partnerships, and demonstrated success of the Main Street Four-Point Approach.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a proven methodology for historic preservation-based community revitalization. It was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 30 years ago and has been implemented by more than 2,000 communities throughout the U.S.

A hometown celebration will be held Aug. 15 on North Columbia Street in recognition of the honor.

 

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