The DDA won the award in light of its in-house designed master plan and recent promotional activities in the downtown area. DDA Manager Tara Currier said it was an award that was many years in the making.
“Well, obviously it’s very exciting. I’ve been on this job for two years and certainly have a little bit of pride in the award myself, but know it has undoubtedly been all the work of the managers and executive directors before my time and wonderful board leadership and elected officials, city council members, mayors and certainly all those who are currently in those roles have played an instrumental role in this award, as well as the countless city departments and city staff. So I hope that it is something that all of the city of Cartersville can be very, very proud of,” Currier said.
Describing itself as a “non-profit association that promotes the economic redevelopment of Georgia’s traditional downtowns,” according to its website, the GDA awards downtown areas each year in its Awards for Downtown Excellence ceremony. Currier said the competition is based on four categories: design, promotions, organization and economic redevelopment, which represent the four ideas of the GDA’s Main Street Four Point Approach. Cartersville’s submission focused on volunteer efforts, she explained.
“We focus on economic development, organization, promotion and design,” Currier said. “You can actually submit in any of those categories, so I had submitted information about our volunteer efforts that we’ve had within our board as well as others in the community.”
What put the city over the top to win the Program of the Year award was a combination of factors, Currier believed. The downtown master plan, bluegrass festival and First Friday programs all contributed to the win.
“It was sort of a culmination of all these wonderful things that Cartersville has done over the past year and even beyond that really led to us receiving this highest honor that is awarded by the Georgia Downtown Conference,” she said.
Cartersville Assistant City Manager Dan Porta, who traveled to Decatur for the award ceremony, said the award was “very significant,” as it named Cartersville as the top downtown community in the state. He believed it would be a beneficial win for the city.
“I think the business owners are pleased with Tara Currier and what she’s been doing down there, along with the board of directors and the things that are going on downtown,” he said. “I definitely think it’s a big plus and it’s a great award for the community as well, because they participated, helped us celebrate that success.”
Saying the work downtown is never done, Currier looked forward to checking more projects off the master plan’s list. The free Wi-Fi network and festival ordinance are two of the most recent items knocked off the list, and she said a covered pavilion may be the next project.
Ultimately, Currier credited the working relationships among many local organizations as the reason for the DDA’s award and continued success.
“It’s not just me, it’s not just the DDA board. It is countless downtown businesses and property owners. It’s the chamber of commerce, economic development, [Convention & Visitor’s Bureau], certainly [the] mayor and council,” she said. “It’s just a lot of people working together and I think that this community should be proud that there are so many individuals who have a passion to see progress in downtown and that they are able to work so well together to make downtown the best that it can be.”