Toccoa Named Ga. Main Street “GEM”

The Toccoa Main Street program receives special recognition from the state of Georgia.

Last week, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs announced that Toccoa is one of five Main Street programs to be named in the first class of the Georgia Exceptional Main Streets, or GEMS, program.

Toccoa was selected along with Bainbridge, Greensboro, Rome, and Valdosta.

These five cities received the recognition out of 14 that applied statewide.

Toccoa Main Street Director Connie Tabor said it is quite an honor to be selected in the first year of this statewide initiative.

“It is a pilot program for the Georgia Main Street network and will provide advanced technical assistance to these communities who have proven leaders in the field of downtown development,” said Tabor.  “We are very excited to be a part of that program.”

The Georgia DCA said that these cities will work closely with its Office of Downtown Development over the next three years to work on special projects in areas like organization, economic development, promotions, and design in an effort to enhance the city’s Main Street District and make it more attractive for economic growth.

For example, Tabor said the city will work with the state to increase housing opportunities in downtown Toccoa.

“We want to encourage more downtown housing in some of the upper story buildings we have in downtown and have more mixed use development,” said Tabor.

Tabor said this is assistance that would not be as readily available to Toccoa if it were not in this program.

Also, she said Toccoa will have the opportunity to work with and learn from the other four cities in the GEMS program.

“I know there will be some trading of ideas among the five cities,” said Tabor.

Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Corbin said the selection of Toccoa and the other four cities for the GEMS program is a wonderful opportunity for them to build on their successes by taking a step to the next level of downtown development.