North Georgia town honored with 2016 Great American Main Street Award
This summer, spend days on the square, shopping, indulging in Southern favorites from the Smith House and panning for gold. With countless opportunities for wholesome memory-making, it’s no wonder the National Main Street Center, Inc. named Dahlonega, Georgia, a 2016 Great American Main Street Award® (GAMSA) winner. The City of Dahlonega and the Dahlonega Main Street program were recognized at the 2016 Main Street Now Conference held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
With a charming and walkable downtown, first-rate restaurants and unique shops featuring the best of Southern Appalachian hospitality, downtown Dahlonega is a top destination in the Southeastern United States. Located just 65 miles north of Atlanta and the site of the first U.S. Gold Rush, more than a million visitors travel to Dahlonega (pop. 6,000) every year. With the Main Street approach as its guide, Dahlonega Main Street uses a combination of tools, including preservation grants, design guidelines and promotion strategies to preserve downtown Dahlonega’s strong sense of place while also expanding economic development opportunities.
“Downtown Dahlonega is a sparkling example of how careful planning, small business support and historic preservation can combine to create a thriving downtown,” says Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Its downtown district, art galleries, restored theater and courthouse stand out in North Georgia, making Dahlonega a truly distinctive shopping and dining destination and a charming place to call home.”
“Dahlonega’s economic success has been built upon our precious historic architecture and resources,” says Dahlonega Mayor Gary McCullough. “Local leaders, partners and stakeholders continue to plan and work diligently to preserve and promote our historic village as an economic center of North Georgia.”
In its 15 years of operation, Dahlonega Main Street distinguished itself as a vital downtown partner in several ways. When a fire devastated several businesses in 2014, the organization led the effort to assess the damage, create an action plan and relocate displaced businesses and 40 employees. In partnership with the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce, local and state government agencies, and the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega Main Street has facilitated 180 building rehabilitations, 108 new business openings and a reduction in retail vacancy rates from 20 percent in 2000 to 2 percent today.
The other two 2016 GAMSA winners are Shaw District in Washington, D.C., and Audubon Park in Orlando, Fla.
To learn about GAMSA and previous winners, visithttp://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/awards/gamsa/past-winners.html