During a recent Thomasville City Council Workshop session, a summary report was shared of the 2016 impact from the Thomasville Main Street Downtown Development Program. According to Main Street Director April Norton, the numbers show a significant impact on the local economy.
“Development in the downtown area positively impacts our local economy in several different ways,” said Norton. “From new businesses and jobs that have been created to the many special events that are held in the downtown area, Thomasville’s downtown is a very significant factor in our community’s overall economic vitality.”
Downtown events have proven to be one of the most successful means to bring visitors to downtown. During 2016, over 475 promotional events were held in the downtown area. “This includes everything from our Rose Show and Festival to First Friday events and everything in between,” said Norton. She also reported that cumulatively, nearly 12,000 volunteer hours and over 110,000 attendees resulted from these events.
Norton reported that there were 16 new or expanded businesses in the downtown area during 2016 which resulted in an additional 76 new jobs. Some of the new businesses included Farmer’s Daughter Vineyards Tasting Room, Hugga Mugga’s, Joyride Electric Bike Rentals and SouthLife Supply Co.
“The downtown area is popular with our local community and is also a major draw for out of town visitors,” she said. “Business owners want to be located in downtown and that only strengthens the variety of retail shops, restaurants and businesses that we have in this area.”
There were also 15 building rehabilitation projects that together totaled $1.3 million in improvements to downtown. Norton explained, “A beautiful renovation to a historic Broad Street property, once known as the Mode Theater in the 1900’s, is now the home of So. Ho. Restaurant, serving modern southern cuisine.”
Norton explained that the success of Thomasville’s downtown is important to the local economy. “Every dollar a community uses to support its local Main Street program leverages an average of $18 in new investment, making Main Street one of the most successful economic development strategies in America.”
Thomasville’s downtown program began in 1981 and since then, more than $87 million has been reinvested in both private and public improvements. “Overall, our program has experienced a net gain of 285 new businesses and more than 1,000 new jobs, which are very impressive numbers,” Norton said.
Thomasville’s Main Street program has long been regarded as one of the most successful in the state of Georgia. In 1998, Thomasville was the first city in Georgia to receive the Great American Main Street Award, awarded through the National Main Street Center. The program has also earned accreditation from Main Street America as a Georgia Exceptional Main Street.