Ellijay is one of only six Georgia cities selected this week to participate in a new Department of Community Affairs pilot program designed to create jobs in Georgia’s historic downtowns.
DCA Commissioner Mike Beatty announced the selection of “BoomTown 2.0” cities, with Ellijay joining Main Street/Better Hometown cities Columbus, Cordele, Jefferson, Madison and Woodstock. The 18-month program will apply a variety of tools and resources in the historic downtown core of each city, focusing on redeveloping areas to stimulate job growth.
“Renovating a community is a lot like renovating a house,” Beatty said. “You need time, a sense of humor, a lot of different tools, and experts that know how to use those tools. We’ve got most of the tools that we need; now we’re going to use them all together to enhance our communities and grow jobs.” BoomTown will combine tools like Opportunity Zones, Urban Redevelopment Plans, Job Tax Credits, and Historic Preservation Tax Credits, all with the assistance of department staff and the support of the Georgia Municipal Association.
“We’re focused on rebuilding our communities and making them places where families can live, work and play. What better place to start than in our downtowns, the places that are full of Georgia’s history and culture, and already have water, sewer, electricity, streets and sidewalks in place?” asked Commissioner Beatty. “These six cities have demonstrated their desire and ability to make change – so we’re going to partner with them to help them change the job scene in their downtowns.”
Mayor Al Hoyle, Downtown Development Authority Chair Larry Robinson, and Better Hometown Manager Mona Lowe met with DCA staff Monday to hear details of the program and discuss local needs. The next step will be selection of a task force to help DCA schedule services to Ellijay, which will include a visit from development specialists who will assist in identifying possible projects. Some members of the local task force will receive training in feasibility analysis for building reuse. DCA will also assist the downtown in creating a “ready for business” plan, and will provide technical assistance in the use of state job creation tools.