On Thursday, May 30, the Coastal Georgia Foundation took about 35 downtown Brunswick stakeholders (business owners, developers, residents and public officials) on a full-day field trip to Macon, Ga. where the group heard from community leaders about the planning and execution of Macon’s successful revitalization effort. Some of the key points from Macon included 1) their focus on attracting residents downtown, 2) their collaborative work to achieve a unified vision for the downtown area and 3) thinking big but working in a clearly defined area (one block at a time) with smaller, achievable successes.
“When downtown Brunswick thrives, we all thrive,” said Paul White, President and CEO of the Coastal Georgia Foundation. “We see the ddowntown revitalization effort as a critical part of our mission to strengthen our coastal communities.” In Macon, the group heard from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, NewTown Macon, the Historic Macon Foundation and a few business owners and developers in downtown Macon.
“We learned how Macon utilized the tools available for urban revitalization, and we came back with some good ideas to support Brunswick and its present and future success,” said White. One of the tools Macon utilizes effectively is NewTown Macon - a private 501c3 that serves as a revolving loan fund for good projects that may otherwise not be eligible for bank funding. Macon also takes advantage of historic tax credits, led by the Historic Macon Foundation.
“Visiting another community that has experienced some successes with revitalization is a terrific learning experience,” says City Commissioner Julie Martin. “Bringing our city to its full potential should be a community-wide effort everyone will be proud of moving forward.”
“I am glad I participated in this field trip and can bring home some ideas we could employ here in Brunswick,” says Jack Kilgore, Board Chairman for the Foundation. Jack is also a board member for the Brunswick & Glynn County Development Authority. “The Coastal Georgia Foundation is well-equipped to convene community stakeholders and foster open dialogue about the opportunities available for downtown Brunswick.”
Other attendees included representatives from the City Commission, the Community and Economic Development department, the Brunswick & Glynn County Development Authority and the Downtown Development Authority, the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation and myriad business owners, property owners and neighborhood residents.
(Photo credit: Gordon Jackson, The Brunswick News)