State agency

The city of Milledgeville has received special recognition from officials with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

The city’s Main Street Program has been bestowed the distinguished honor of becoming “A Georgia Exceptional Main Street City.”

Tess Harper, who is with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Office of Downtown Development, presented the award to local officials during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

“Through the Office of Downtown Development, we manage the Georgia Main Street Program and have the pleasure of working with 100 plus cities across the state, dedicated to the growth of their historic commercial district,” Harper told Mayor Mary Parham-Copelan and members of city council, along with the staff of the city’s Main Street Program, including Carlee Schulte, a staffer, and members of the downtown development board.

Schulte, serves as director of the Milledgeville Main Street Program and Downtown Development Authority.

The Main Street approach provides what Harper described as a balanced path towards revitalization with a focus on economic development and historic preservation.

Harper explained that in partnership with the National Main Street Center, all participating cities are required to meet 10 standards during an annual assessment process in order to become an accredited Main Street America City.

During such an assessment process, those involved work as a team in an effort to identify communities who have gone above and beyond to consistently excel in each of those 10 standards, Harper said.

“These cities are known as Georgia Exceptional Main Street or we lovingly refer to them as gems,” Harper said. “It is because of the MIlledgeville Main Street Program’s commitment to excellence and stellar leadership that I am here to congratulate you all on being designated as a 2020 Gem’s Community.”

Schulte was asked Wednesday what the statewide recognition means to her.

“This is such an honor, and I love the new way that DCA has decided to present the GEMS communities with a local presentation of these awesome street signs,” Schulte told The Union-Recorder via email. “We love that we are one of only 10 GEMS communities in the state, and we will continue to work hard to make the Milledgeville community proud of our downtown.”

Schulte explained that the work of the Milledgeville Main Street Program is varied as far as activities go, but that she feels she along with Deana Thornton, her administrative assistant, and board members had worked hard to make sure that the work they are doing together has a positive impact, and continues to help move Milledgeville forward. She said she also wanted such work to create a sense of place and pride for those that live here, and a sense of excitement and interest for those who visit the historic city.

During the past three years, Milledgeville has seen almost $30 million of private and public investment in downtown with more than 50 new businesses opening and 95 new jobs having been created, Harper pointed out.

“Additionally, your Main Street Program has attracted nearly 200,000 people to downtown during different events,” Harper said. “You are all to be commended for your dedication to rebuilding the heart of your city and to recognize the city of Milledgeville and as a token of our appreciation I would like to present you with the gateway signage recognizing your designation: Welcome to Downtown Milledgeville, A Georgia Exceptional Main Street City.”

She went on to thank city officials and those involved with the city’s Main Street Program for all they do to promote the city’s downtown growth.

“Thank you for all that you do and we can’t wait to see what the future holds,” Harper said before presenting the new signage to Carlee Schulte, and a staff administrator, as well as downtown development board members.

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