Hinesville Downtown Partners Tuesday discussed starting a Main Street start-up program here. The partners will ask city leaders for support Thursday at a council.
“(Last year) we gave a presentation to the council to get permission to submit an application to the (Georgia Department of Community Development) for the Main Street program,” Downtown Development Authority Director Vicki Davis said, noting Hinesville was among 19 cities selected. “Now, we need to do a presentation to the council to ask for their support with the (Main Street) start-up program.”
She said the start-up program has five objectives and nine goals. The first objective is to “create a systematic approach to strong program management” focusing on “strategic goals of downtown improvement.” The first goal, she said, is to keep local government informed. That goal would be met with Thursday’s presentation.
“We have to tailor the program to the unique dynamics of our community based on the desire and capacity of the volunteers that support it,” Davis said. “The volunteers use the guiding principles of the program as the concept by which we approach downtown development.”
Another goal is to submit a staffing plan to the GDCA, including a job description, salary and benefits package for a permanent part-time or full-time manager, she said. Davis said she will act as manager until a manager is appointed. She said the next step is to establish a board of directors, hire staff, establish the organization’s mission, vision and bylaws, and then establish committees with specific tasks.
When the discussion turned to Thursday’s presentation, Jason Lee, an instructor at East Georgia College in Statesboro and co-owner of Jungle Jakes hobby shop here, reviewed the information he would present to the council.
Before reviewing each presentation slide, Davis suggested the partners attend Thursday’s meeting, but said they should disperse themselves among others at the meeting. Their focus on the presentation might prompt others to pay attention to the presentation.
Lee paused at a slide that reviewed the history of the Main Street program. According to the slide information, the program started in 1980 and has had a $4 billion impact on the state, netting 59,000 new jobs.
“There’s a question I’d like for y’all to answer for me that I suspect somebody’s going to ask,” Lee said. “Somebody is bound to ask, ‘Why do we need something extra beyond the (programs, authorities and initiatives) already in place?’ How do I answer that question?”
Downtown Partner Krystal Hart said the program essentially is the tie that binds the other programs together. Davis said the program really isn’t a new initiative, noting that HDDA already has been doing downtown activities. Dolly Goldman, who served as a Main Street program manager in Florida, said it was important for city leaders and the business community to understand that supporting the program doesn’t have to be in the form of money. Businesses could offer discounts to encourage downtown shopping, she said.
Davis added that she expects one question will be how much it will cost the city. The city would not fund the program, but would provide office space for the manager, she said.
“In addition to the presentation Jason will give, I will also present the HDDA’s recommendations to transition staff and budget items to the partners to facilitate the Main Street program,” Davis said, explaining that downtown activities like the Farmer’s Market and Scarecrow Stroll would be managed by the partners through the program. “I recommend that you form the organization committee first with a chair person to facilitate the immediate tasks. This is a volunteer-driven organization, so I’ll ask if there’s anyone willing to volunteer to take the lead with the organization committee. This person will call meetings, set the agenda and manage the tasks of the committee work plan.”