Georgia Cities Foundation Continues to Serve

August 11, 2021

The mission of the Georgia Cities Foundation (GCF) is to assist cities in their community development efforts to revitalize and enhance underserved downtown areas by serving as a financing partner and to provide other programming and training to help local leadership with their community and economic development initiatives.

GCF Awarded Grant to Benefit Cities

GCF, which is a Community Development Financial Institution, recently received a $1,826,265 grant from the Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions Rapid Response Program (CDFI RRP). The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 (Section 523 of Division N; Pub. L. No 116-260) was enacted on December 27, 2020 to provide $1.25 billion for grants to support, prepare for and respond to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is designed to quickly deploy capital to Certified CDFIs through a streamlined application and review process. Funding awarded to CDFIs will be used to help distressed and underserved communities respond to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Georgia Cities Foundation Programs and Initiatives

Georgia Cities Foundation Revolving Loan

In 2021, four loans were closed totaling $825,993 with a total project investment of $4,830,703. Additionally, 12 loan commitments have been made, totaling $2,600,200 with a total project investment of $18,292,924.

To date, 162 loans have closed totaling $178 million in private investment. The total program impact includes 323 new downtown businesses, 2,059 new downtown jobs created, 321 new downtown housing units, eight downtown cultural facilities, 183 downtown hotel units,

1,530,234 redeveloped square footage, and 207,467 new construction square footage.

Please send inquiries to Chris Higdon at or 678-651-1018.

Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative

The Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative is a three-year-old place-based economic development program that provides participating communities with education, facilitation, technical assistance, networking, peer learning and incentives to help identify their community assets and develop a locally based placemaking strategy.

The Georgia Economic Placemaking Collaborative emphasizes the importance of equitable and inclusive community engagement in the development project process. The Collaborative is designed to work for cities with differing demographics. The participating cities vary in size, population, racial makeup and socio-economic status.

The partners are: GMA, Georgia Cities Foundation, Georgia Power, Georgia Cities Solutions, UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Georgia Conservancy and Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Currently, there are 11 participating cities and one county (with seven cities).

In conjunction with the program’s signature retreat, the second Placemaking Plenary quarterly series focused on using the place-based approach to address community issues surrounding workforce development. The plenary series is a partnership with Georgia City Solutions and Georgia Power and is focused on using the place-based approach to address community issues. The next retreat will be for all 13 communities and will take place the first week of September in person. More details to come soon.

Please send inquiries to Stephanie Russell at

Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership Design Assistance Update

GCF partners with CVIOG to utilize technical assistance funds from the existing partnership to fill a small portion of the demand for design services due to the closing of the DCA downtown design program.

Work underway includes:


  • Façade rendering for mixed-use project on Main Street – work already completed on building in accordance with design
  • Infill concept for mixed-use building completed on riverbank across from new city park
  • Food cart plaza concept design completed


  • Façade design for existing historic building complete

Downtown Fellows Design Program Update

The cities participating in the fellows program for 2021 are Colquitt and Gainesville.


  • This fellowship effort is expanded beyond the normal scope and includes more significant assistance from within CVIOG due to scope and needs.
  • Creating plans for how to best utilize impacts from nearby hospital expansion
  • Multiple façade and streetscape designs


  • Focus for fellowship is the Athens Street Corridor, a historic Black neighborhood.
  • Assessment, analysis and recommendations with a goal for the city to do right-of-way improvements and work with the community to determine what the improvements need to look like


  • Requested design assistance for a proposed multi-building, mixed-use infill concept.


  • Requested significant design assistance for SPLOST funds dedicated to downtown development.
  • Please send inquiries to Chris Higdon at

Renaissance Strategic Visioning and Planning


  • Completed and report is in the process of being printed. Most comprehensive report to date at 166 pages.
  • First RSVP to date that integrated a charette by 13 students from UGA’s College of Environment and Design
  • Significant partnership effort with the regional commission


  • Much of scope includes a downtown property the city has spent
  • $750 thousand in acquisition in the last three months and is deeding that to the DDA
  • The public input and visioning to date through the RSVP process drove the decision to acquire the property

Fort Oglethorpe:

  • Visioning/Planning for the city kicked off in June

Please send inquiries to Chris Higdon at

The Development Sessions

  • The monthly development sessions continue to be a hit with GMA member cities and sister organizations’ development professionals.
  • Best Practices & Success Stories: Georgia Historic Theatres
  • Registration link:

This article was originally featured in the July/August 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities Magazine.


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