The City of Thomasville has once again been designated as an accredited Georgia Exceptional Main Street (GEMS) program by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the National Main Street Center. According to Main Street and Business Development Director April Norton, this distinction means that Thomasville’s main street program is ranked among the best in the state of Georgia.
“It is an honor to continue to be recognized and named a GEMS community, as this is an accreditation that has to be earned each year,” said Norton. “This is a testament to the commitment of our entire community to the main street approach, which is exemplified through a focused, deliberate path that encompasses economic vitality, design, organization and promotion. All of these areas together help to not only revitalize but also strengthen our downtown economic impact.”
As part of this year’s reaccreditation process, Norton delivered a presentation to members of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). “It was exciting to have the opportunity to share with our state leaders how our community supports our main street program and recognizes the economic impact that a strong downtown has on our local economy. DCA was very impressed with our report and the economic impact presented, showcasing historic preservation movements, new developments and filling empty storefronts, which in return creates job opportunities.”
For 2018, Downtown Thomasville welcomed a net growth of 19 new businesses representing 130 new jobs to the community. “This is above the state average of ten new businesses and 26 new jobs,” said Norton.
“Thomasville also reported 18 building rehabilitation projects, which shows that the private sector supports the revitalization efforts of restoring historic buildings downtown,” Norton said. “Locally, we’ve invested $7.5 million in public and private dollars into our downtown district, well above the state average of $4.6 million. These figures illustrate not only the support we receive from our community, but also the importance of downtown as an economic engine for our local economy.”
It is this community support that Norton said helps set Thomasville’s main street program apart.
“We have 115 main street cities in Georgia. To be named a GEMS community is quite an honor for our program as it recognizes the exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street approach,” she said.
Thomasville’s Main Street Program began in 1981 and was one of the first in Georgia. In 1998, Thomasville earned the National Great American Main Street Award. “It’s the generations of visionaries and leaders who have paved the way to Thomasville’s success,” Norton said. “Since our program was founded, there has been a net gain of 308 businesses and more than 1,180 jobs in the downtown business district. It is this kind of success that has made Thomasville the example other communities often emulate.”
Alan Carson, City Manager, said that earning the distinction of being named a Georgia Exceptional Main Street program is a point of pride for the entire community. “We have a strong downtown because of the support we receive from our City Council, downtown businesses, property owners and local community members,” he said. “Together, we’ve created a thriving downtown with unique experiences for our citizens and visitors to our community. This award shows what we’ve all achieved, together.”