The Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Office of Downtown Development announced recently that the City of Winder will be the newest community to join the list of 82 cities already awarded with the designation of Accredited Main Street America™ community.

The DCA’s Office of Downtown Development oversees the accreditation process for the Georgia Main Street Program, and designation recognizes communities with a “commitment to comprehensive revitalization, community engagement and impact,” according to a news release.

State officials recognized Winder’s Main Street Program for being a “community lead organization that over the past two years has established a proven track record of success in planning, implementing, and measuring results that align with the Main Street Approach™.”

There are 10 categories for accreditation criteria: broad-based community support, vision and mission statements, comprehensive work plan, historic preservation ethic, active board and committees, adequate operating budget, paid professional staff, program of ongoing training, reporting of key statistics, and Main Street network membership.

“The Main Street Approach™ provides a time-tested, comprehensive, market-based and community-led path towards revitalization which has been employed in over 2,000 communities across this country over the last 40 years, said Jessica Reynolds, director of the DCA’s Office of Downtown Development. “While every single community and commercial district is unique, with its own distinctive assets and resources, Main Street offers an adaptable framework that can be easily tailored to fit each city’s local conditions.”

Reynolds congratulated Winder on its “commitment to preservation-based economic development” that led to the city’s designation.

Over the past two years, downtown Winder has seen over $7 million in private and public investment, with an emphasis on new businesses and job creation.

“This is just the beginning for their program. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them,” Reynolds said.

In recent years, the downtown Winder area has seen several new businesses and publicly- and privately-funded revitalization projects — including the new Plaza at Jackson pedestrian park, renovations to Jug Tavern Park, Daniel Diaz’s restoration of and opening of Latin Flavors Steakhouse in the old Peskin department store building, the renovations to the building where restaurants Smokey Gringo and feast26 have opened, new parks and wayfinding signage and renovations to the old People’s Bank building, where the Café at the Lobby Maddox and office space is now located.

“The public-private investments are very notable and should be celebrated, (but) there are other tasks and projects completed more ‘behind the scenes’ that earn a community points towards their accreditation,” said Maddison Dean, director of economic development for the city.

The Georgia Main Street Program has been helping to revitalize historic commercial districts for more 40 years and is one of the five original states to implement the Main Street Approach™. Today, its network is comprised of more than 100 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since its inception in 1980, Georgia Main Street cities have created more than 80,000 net new jobs and stimulated a $7.3 billion investment of private and public funds into the state’s economy, according to the release.

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