After nearly seven years as the executive director of the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, Vicki Davis is leaving her position and moving on with her career. Davis resigned Friday, April 11. She said her last day on the job will be April 25.
“I’ve worked in downtown development for over 13 years,” Davis said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in two of the most successful downtown-development and main street state-level programs — Iowa and Georgia. Both states offer extensive training and resources that provide the downtown professional with the training, knowledge and skills necessary for leading such a comprehensive program in a progressive community.”
Davis said she and her husband moved from Iowa to Hinesville in 2007 after she responded to the nationwide job posting for her current position. She said her husband is a former soldier who was stationed at Fort Stewart twice, so they were familiar with the area. They also wanted to move back to the South, she said.
The two major projects she tackled when she got here were preservation of the Old Liberty County Jail and being the co-coordinator for the Army Community Heritage Partnership, which continued until 2011.
She said Fort Stewart had signed a contract with the National Trust Main Street Center, which required working with the city of Hinesville to improve the downtown district for the betterment of the military community.
That project included implementation of “way-finding directional signs,” which she said helped develop the city’s downtown brand. The ACHP program also improved communication with Fort Stewart, which enabled the city to cross-promote downtown events. The first Small World Festival was a product of the ACHP program that has continued to be a signature partnered event for HDDA and FMWR. This year’s festival is scheduled for May 10.
That partnership also led to Oktoberfest, which she called a very successful event that people still talk about. It also helped with the development of the Hinesville Downtown Farmers Market and Lunchtime Concert in the Park series, she said. The HDDA signed a lease with Bryant Commons in 2010, according to Davis. The terms of that lease include a requirement to hold a minimum of six cultural events at the park each year. The most recent event was the second annual Easter Egg Roll.
When asked of her greatest accomplishments in her time with HDDA, Davis said it was her role in obtaining grant funds for the amphitheater at Bryant Commons.
“The ($500,000 grant) proposal (for the amphitheater) was written by myself and the engineer with administrative assistance from the city’s grant-writing department. I am proud to be a part of the effort that resulted in the amphitheater that has been and will continue to be a gathering point in the community for festivals and concerts throughout the years,” she said.
Davis said there are other things still in the works at Bryant Commons, including the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee’s Veterans Memorial, signage for the park and realignment of the park entrance with Ryon Avenue.
Davis spoke fondly of the creation of the Hinesville Downtown Partners, a group of volunteer business men and women and others interested in developing the downtown area. That group’s formation led to the city’s recent selection as a start-up community for Georgia’s Main Street Program. She noted one of the most successful events in the downtown area has been the annual Scarecrow Stroll and Beggars Night. She said attendance for that event is close to that for the annual Christmas parade through downtown.
There are many on-going projects in downtown Hinesville she’d like to see continue to develop, she said. One of the most important, Davis said, is the continued redevelopment of Memorial Drive, including the new library, the Liberty campus for Armstrong Atlantic State University and the senior housing development called Renaissance Park. She said much of the development of Memorial Drive now is up to the property owners and private developers.
“As I reflect on the last 6 ½ years with HDDA, I am proud of the accomplishments made both as an organization and through our many partnerships from physical improvements and collaborative planning to special events,” Davis said. “However, the greatest returning reward for the investment of my time and effort has been the continued expression of appreciation from business affiliates and the community as whole.”