Georgia Cities Foundation Celebrates 20 Years

February 11, 2019

This article appeared in the February 2019 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
T his 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.

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