VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta has once again is been designated as a Georgia Exceptional Main Street (GEMS) program by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and National Main Street Center. Valdosta is one of 18 cities to receive the designation from a list of 115 Main Streets that participated in the highly competitive annual assessment process.
Valdosta was initially named as a GEMS by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in 2014 and was one of the first five cities designated in the state. Since 2014, the list grew to eighteen cities across the state.
“We are proud of this state and national recognition that confirms the overwhelmingly positive impact that our Main Street program continues to have on our local historic downtown and our city as a whole,” said City Manager Mark Barber. “From new businesses and job creation, to rehabilitation projects and downtown housing, working together with the Central Valdosta Development Authority (CVDA), our Valdosta Main Street has set themselves apart with a focus on economic development and as an example for other communities to follow.”
Designated GEMS have demonstrated a strong and positive impact in their communities as measured by the monthly and annual assessment processes. These are programs or organizations that have a proven track record of success in planning, implementing, and measuring results that align with the Main Street Approach and have met a series of rigorous accreditation standards.
In 2018 alone, Downtown Valdosta generated $13 million in public and private investment along with $10.5 million in private investment for completed rehabilitation projects. Valdosta Main Street helped open 11 new businesses and/or expansions with 128 net new jobs and hosted 375 promotional events.
“It is the Valdosta Main Street program’s commitment to excellence and stable leadership which has contributed to them being designated as a 2020 GEMS community. Over the past three years, Valdosta has seen over 30 million dollars of private and public investment in its downtown, with over 50 new businesses opening and 230 net new jobs being created. Additionally, their Main Street program has attracted over 160,000 people to downtown through civic events. I couldn’t be more proud of the impact they have made and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this amazing program,” said Jessica Reynolds, Director of the DCA Office of Downtown Development which houses the Georgia Main Street program.
As GEMS communities, these Main Street programs gain access to special one-on-one technical services offered by the Office of Downtown Development, such as strategic planning sessions, board retreats and work plan development, along with scholarship opportunities and discounted rates for training and design services.