Macon, GA named 2024 Great American Main Street

Main Street America announced that NewTown Macon in Macon, Georgia, has received the prestigious Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA), which recognizes communities for their excellence in comprehensive preservation-based commercial district revitalization. The 2024 GAMSA honors, sponsored by The Hartford, were presented at the opening plenary for the Main Street Now Conference in Birmingham, Alabama on Monday, May 6.

Selected by a national jury of industry professionals and local leaders in the fields of economic development and historic preservation, NewTown Macon is being recognized for leading a community-driven effort that nurtures local talent, fosters sustainable development, and promotes inclusivity.

“NewTown Macon exemplifies the importance of growing from within and investing in local human capital, leadership, and pride in community,” says Erin Barnes, President and CEO at Main Street America. “From generational wealth building programs to pride of place initiatives, NewTown Macon offers an impressive model that centers the needs, desires, and dreams of locals.”

Situated on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, downtown Macon is bustling with over 120 locally owned and operated restaurants, retailers, and entertainment venues. In 1996, the same district struggled with boarded up storefronts and neglected, vacant buildings. Where many saw a dead and decaying downtown, others envisioned a world-class city. Through the tenacious leadership of Juanita Jordan (inaugural director of the Peyton Anderson Foundation), a team of stakeholders from local institutions and the business community rallied to form NewTown Macon.

Since NewTown Macon’s inception, the organization has used the concept of the Main Street Approach™ for community transformation. Macon officially became a Main Street community in 2011 and NewTown Macon adopted the Main Street program in 2018, leading to more synergy in Macon’s revitalization efforts and strengthened communication efforts amongst all downtown stakeholders. Also beginning in 2011, the organization began investing in strategies to enliven the district through downtown housing and small business development.

A $5 million revolving loan fund issued by Bibb County kick started NewTown Macon’s loan program and led to the organization becoming Central Georgia’s first and only Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 2021. Through accessible loan capital using historic tax credits, NewTown Macon has added 371 units of housing, 67 storefronts, and over 1000 residents to date.

“We are deeply honored to accept the Great American Main Street Award, a recognition that underscores the collaborative spirit and dedication of our entire community,” said Emily Hopkins, Vice President of External Affairs and Main Street Macon Manager at NewTown Macon. “This award celebrates our shared vision for downtown Macon’s revitalization, where every citizen actively contributes to creating a vibrant and prosperous future for generations of Maconites to come.”

NewTown Macon’s core values of local loyalty, imagination, action, empowerment, and accountability, serve as cornerstones for the organization’s commitment to grassroots revitalization efforts. To ensure that their work reflects the diversity of the community, NewTown Macon engages in initiatives designed to foster a welcoming district and to nurture generational wealth building through entrepreneurship and property ownership. Through their CDFI, entrepreneur and developer academies, and Downtown Diversity Initiative—an entrepreneurial training program formed in partnership with the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages—NewTown Macon has increased the number of Black-owned businesses in downtown from 28 to 50. They have also helped 23 local entrepreneurs purchase and renovate commercial spaces for their businesses, creating stability and pathways for community wealth.

“This accolade recognizes Macon’s remarkable achievements in transforming its downtown into a vibrant hub where the entire community can gather and engage in rich, cultural experiences,” said Jessica Worthington, Director, Office of Downtown Development at Georgia Department of Community Affairs. “Macon’s dedication to fostering a welcoming and dynamic urban center sets a shining example for our state and cities nationwide.”

Main Street America named NewTown Macon as a 2024 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) Semifinalist. This prestigious award is the nation’s top award recognizing communities for their excellence in comprehensive preservation-based commercial district revitalization. A jury of professionals and leaders in the fields of community and economic development and historic preservation convened to review a nationwide pool of applicants. After thoughtful deliberation, the jury unanimously selected eight semifinalists that demonstrate exemplary use of the Main Street Approach™ to lead community-based transformation strategies in their downtowns.

“The Great American Main Street Award is the highest honor that we grant to organizations within our network,” said Matt Wagner, Chief Program Officer at Main Street America. “We are elated to recognize NewTown Macon and seven peer organizations as 2024 GAMSA Semifinalists for their incredible accomplishments in transforming their downtowns through innovative programs strategically designed to preserve their unique heritage, foster economic vitality, and create a welcoming atmosphere.”

For more than 40 years, the Main Street America movement has been committed to strengthening communities by revitalizing older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts through preservation-based economic development.

The Dallas Main Street Program was considered a start-up Main Street program in 2021 and later became a Downtown Affiliate Network. After completing the rigorous accreditation process in January 2023, the Dallas Main Street Program was invited to apply to become a Classic Main Street Program. Becoming an accredited Classic Main Street Program is a mark of distinction. This level of recognition given is for the commitment of building grassroots revitalization programs, fostering strong public-private partnerships, nurturing economic opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and actively preserving historic places, spaces, and cultural assets. “It has been wonderful to support the City of Dallas on its journey to accreditation over the past two years. While they have a beautiful courthouse, great shops, and tons of opportunities that lie ahead, it’s their leadership and commitment to downtown revitalization that has really set them apart.” -Jessica Reynolds, Director, Office of Downtown Development.

All Classic Main Street programs are annually accredited by the state of Georgia and designated by the National Main Street Center. These communities have set themselves apart by emphasizing historic preservation education and economic development, leading to an active and vibrant downtown.” Dallas Main Street Manager Shannon Gordon says, “When you look at many of the successful downtowns across the state, majority of them are Main Street communities using the proven and successful Main Street Approach. The city of Dallas has worked so hard to become a Main Street Program over the last two years and I can’t wait to see what we are able to accomplish with the help of Georgia Main Street and the resources and knowledge it provides.” In the last year, Dallas Main Street introduced two new events to Downtown which led to record sales days for multiple businesses in our Main Street District. The local program also introduced its own gift certificate program, Downtown Dollars, which can be purchased in the Business Development Office (200 Main Street) and can be spent at 16 participating businesses located in Downtown Dallas and the immediate surrounding Downtown Development Authority (DDA) District.

The Dallas Main Street Program is continuously working to bring new small businesses and events to downtown Dallas. Learn more about the program by visiting and follow on Facebook and Instagram @mydallasga.

Via the Georgia Downtown Assocation: Spring is well underway and so is planning for the 2023 Georgia Downtown Conference!  We hope you are planning to join us in Canton, August 21-24, 2023. Applications are now available to begin submissions for education sessions. All submission proposals need to be received by April 28th. Visit the GDA website here for applications and additional conference information. As always, contact me if you have any questions at or 678-244-0511. Can’t wait to see you in Canton!

The GM on Main Street Grant Program has awarded six $25,000 grants to nonprofit organizations and municipal government entities to implement innovative placemaking initiatives in their local districts. Made possible by General Motors, this grant program prioritized applications that were place-making focused, innovative, inclusive, feasible, and replicable or easily scalable for other Main Street programs. Congratulations to Little Five Points on receiving in East Atlanta on receiving this grant!

T-Mobile just revealed the names of 25 more American small towns that will receive Hometown Grants to jumpstart vital community projects, including Cedartown, GA! Created to help local communities move forward on projects that build on the strengths that have always made them great places to live and work, Hometown Grants are inspired by the unique sense of place and deep pride that is so much a part of every small town. T-Mobile works with the National Main Street Center to determine recipients. View press release here.

Main Street America recently announced Macon has completed more historic preservation tax credit projects than any other community in the nation. According to Main Street America’s “Mapping Main Streets” project, 69 historic tax credit projects have been completed in Macon’s Main Street district, which aligns with the Central Business District in downtown Macon.

Historic tax credits have been the single most transformative financing tool for the revitalization of Macon’s urban core. Qualifying income-producing properties are eligible to freeze their property tax value at the pre-improvement rate for 8.5 years and can receive 25% of their qualified rehabilitation expenses, or QREs, as a state income tax credit and 20% of their QREs as a federal income tax credit. These savings incentivize locals to purchase and rehabilitate eligible historic properties using the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties, ensuring Macon’s historic commercial district and neighborhoods retain their character and charm. Read full story here.

Recently, Downtown Dublin, Downtown Douglas and Downtown Perry were featured in Georgia Trend for their innovative ideas regarding pedestrian safety. “Moving pedestrians safely around downtowns is essential to the economic vitality of Georgia communities.”

Read the full story here.

Via the National Main Street Center: From the Athens Art Alley to Tybee Island’s Beach Business Bootcamp, Georgia Main Street communities have been creating and reinforcing downtown recovery through the support of the Georgia Main Street Innovation Grant Program, made possible through generous support from The Williams Family Foundation of Georgia. This program provided five Georgia Main Street Program communities $10,000 each last fall to help fund innovative revitalization efforts to address the current and/or legacy impacts of COVID-19.

A year after receiving their grants, we caught up with the five grant recipients—Downtown Athens, GeorgiaCity of TiftonDowntown Thomasville, GeorgiaTybee Island Main Street, and Downtown Valdosta Main Street—to learn more about their creative and out-of-the-box ideas around COVID-recovery. In this week’s Community Spotlight, learn more about the winning ideas and their progress thus far:

The Georgia Main Street program announced Cartersville, Monroe and Athens will be added to the list of cities that hold the designation of a Georgia Exceptional Main Street (GEMS) community.

The staff of the Office of Downtown Development with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs attended the recent council meetings of each city to relay the mission of the Georgia Main Street program and the significance of the GEMS recognition.

GEMS cities represent some of the best Main Street Programs offered by the state. These Main Streets “have gone above and beyond expectations by making a strong and positive impact in their communities while utilizing the Main Street Approach,” according to Jessica Reynolds, the director of the Office of Downtown Development. Reynolds congratulated Cartersville, Monroe and Athens on their “commitment to excellence and stable leadership” that led to this designation. Over the past three years, each community has seen millions of dollars in private and public investment, with an emphasis on new businesses and job creation.

The additional GEMS communities are Acworth, Bainbridge, Brunswick, Columbus, Dahlonega, Dublin, Greensboro, Madison, Milledgeville, Moultrie, Newnan, Rome, Statesboro, Thomasville, Tifton, Toccoa and Valdosta.

As you maybe aware the virus Covid-19 has changed how we look at normal day to day business in the Main Street world. In our most recent webinar, we discussed how this will impact you as a local program along with recommendations and tips for helping keep the community calmed, informed and supported. During these moments of crisis we have already seen some great best practices happening around the state.

The Georgia Main Street program announced Acworth and Dublin are newly designated Georgia Exceptional Main Street communities (GEMS), joining only 15 other communities across the state that hold this accolade.

The staff of the Office of Downtown Development with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs attended the December council meetings of each city to relay the mission of the Georgia Main Street program and the significance of the GEMS recognition.

GEMS represent some of the best Main Street Programs offered by the state. These Main Streets “have gone above and beyond expectations by making a strong and positive impact in their communities,” according to Jessica Reynolds, the director of the Office of Downtown Development. Reynolds congratulated each community on the “commitment to excellence and stable leadership” that led to this designation. Over the past three years, each downtown has seen millions of dollars in private and public investment, with an emphasis on historic preservation, business development, and job creation.

The additional GEMS communities are Bainbridge, Brunswick, Columbus, Dahlonega, Greensboro, Madison, Milledgeville, Moultrie, Newnan, Rome, Statesboro, Thomasville, Tifton, Toccoa and Valdosta.

From the National Main Street Center: We’re thrilled to announce that applications are now open for the Future of Shopping Small Grant Program. American Express and Main Street America have teamed up to provide 10 small business owners $10K each to help their businesses innovate in the evolving retail landscape. The program is intended to support small businesses across the country that have demonstrated new approaches to traditional business strategies and those businesses looking to try out creative techniques, while also helping to revitalize and strengthen older and historic commercial districts. Grant recipients should demonstrate commitment to both their local community and principles described in American Express’ Future of Shopping Small guide. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2020.

Click here to apply online.

From learning on the go to Main Street 201 deep dives 2020’s Training Calendar has a little bit of something for everyone! Check out the links below for registration details, agendas and the cost for each workshop.

Mobilize Main Street:

Leadership Summit

Main Street 201: Strategic Planning Workshop


Want to learn more? Check out our online webinar about the 2020 Training Calendar:


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s almost Small Business Saturday — the annual holiday shopping tradition that gets communities everywhere out in support of their favorite small businesses. Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday will fall on Nov. 30th this year. Click here to visit the Shop Small Studio to receive downloadable materials, how-to videos and more.

To help get the word out, we created this video as a resource for our Georgia Main Street communities during the Shop Small season. When sharing, please don’t forget to use the hashtags #shopsmall and #gamainst as well as tagging our Facebook and Instagram handle (@gamainst). Happy shopping!

The Office of Downtown Development is excited to announce the addition of Matthew Dean to our team as Community Design Specialist. Matthew studied landscape architecture at UGA’s College of Environment & Design while working for DCA as a graduate assistant where he developed an interest in urban design. Currently, he and his wife, Maddison, reside in Commerce, GA.

We are also excited to announce the addition of Tara Bradshaw as Economic Development Specialist. Tara served as Main Street Dublin Director from 2012 to 2017 and was appointed Executive Director of Dublin DDA in February 2017. During her tenure, Dublin saw 19.6 million in private/public investment with the creation of 160+ new jobs. Tara will continue to live in Dublin with her husband Matthew and are devoted to creating a place their two young children, Maggie Claire and Lane, will be proud to call home.

The ​Office ​of ​Downtown ​Development ​is ​excited ​to ​be ​bringing ​you ​a ​variety ​of ​new ​training ​opportunities ​in ​2019. ​The ​workshops ​offered ​will ​include ​but ​are ​not ​limited ​to:


Mini ​Main ​Street ​201- ​”Beers, ​Brews ​and ​Business ​Development”

February ​26th ​in ​Greensboro, ​GA

Cost: ​$35 ​per ​person, ​all ​tiers


Mini ​Main ​Street ​201- ​”Conquering ​the ​Diversity ​Divide”

June ​11th ​in ​LaGrange- ​GA

Cost: ​$25 ​per ​person, ​all ​tiers


Annual ​Leadership ​Summit

July ​23 ​& ​24th ​in ​Valdosta, ​GA

Cost: ​$200 ​GEMS, ​$250 ​Classic ​and ​$275 ​Affiliate


Mini ​Main ​Street ​201- ​”Funding ​Main ​Street”

September ​17th ​in ​Brunswick, ​GA

Cost: ​$25 ​per ​person, ​all ​tiers


*When ​registering , ​if ​asked ​to ​enter ​an ​eligible ​discount ​code ​please ​use ​the ​code ​”GEMS” ​for ​GEMS ​designated ​cities ​and ​”Classic” ​for ​Classic ​Main ​Street ​designated ​cities. ​All ​Affiliate ​or ​all ​other ​non-designated ​registrants ​need ​not ​enter ​any ​additional ​information. ​

Register Here

Register today for Mobilize Main Street! Our brand new learning on-the-go tour will take place in Toccoa, Athens and Madison on May 15 & 16th. The cost is $300 for GEMS*, $350 for Classic Main Streets* and $375 for Affiliate* or Non-designated registrants. Cost includes one night stay at Hotel Indigo on the evening of May 15th, transportation to Toccoa & Madison from Athens and all meals for both days.

Register here

Main Street 101 is live and online! Main Street 101 has been re-imagined as a completely online, interactive experience designed to walk you through the Main Street 4- Point Approach from start to finish. Here the fundamentals of the Main Street program have been broken down here in to a four part series providing you the viewer with videos, links and visual resources, to help you better retain the information presented.

Georgia Main Street: Leadership Summit
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 9:00 AM – Wednesday, June 13, 2018 3:30 PM (Eastern Time)
Downtown LaGrange Courtyard by Marriott

A ​Main ​Street ​Director. ​A ​board ​member. ​An ​elected ​official. ​A ​volunteer ​coordinator. ​A ​parent. ​Whether ​you’re ​one ​of ​these ​things ​or ​all ​of ​these ​things, ​one ​thing ​remains ​true: ​You ​are ​a ​leader. But ​where ​are ​you ​on ​your ​leadership ​journey, ​and ​where ​do ​you ​go ​from ​here? ​This ​question ​exists ​at ​the ​heart ​of ​so ​many ​leaders. ​Everyone ​wants ​to ​know ​where ​they ​stand ​and ​how ​to ​get ​to ​the ​next ​level. ​And ​you ​are ​probably ​no ​different! ​This ​is ​why ​John ​Maxwell ​developed ​the ​5 ​Levels ​of ​Leadership ​paradigm. ​

Certified ​to ​teach ​John ​Maxwell’s ​5 ​Levels ​of ​Leadership, ​here ​at ​the ​Office ​of ​Downtown ​Development ​is ​is ​our ​goal ​to ​help ​you, ​as ​a ​community ​leader, ​understand ​and ​increase ​your ​effectiveness. ​ ​Leadership ​is ​about ​growth ​– ​for ​yourself, ​your ​relationships, ​your ​productivity, ​and ​your ​people. ​To ​lead ​well, ​you ​must ​embrace ​your ​need ​for ​continual ​improvement, ​and ​the ​5 ​Levels ​provide ​a ​leadership ​GPS ​to ​help ​you ​with ​your ​journey. ​You ​must ​know ​where ​you ​are, ​to ​know ​where ​you’re ​going. Otherwise, ​as ​the ​Cheshire ​Cat ​told ​Alice, ​when ​you ​don’t ​know ​where ​you’re ​going, ​any ​road ​will ​get ​you ​there.

The ​cost ​to ​attend ​this ​workshop ​is ​$300. ​These ​fees ​will ​go ​to ​cover ​the ​cost ​of ​the ​space ​rental, ​breakfast, ​breakout ​session ​snacks ​and ​the ​5 ​Levels ​of ​Leadership ​classroom ​materials. ​The ​materials ​alone ​retail ​at ​$199.00. ​

When ​registering ​​please ​enter ​your ​communities ​designation ​level ​to ​view ​applicable ​discount ​rates:
Affiliate- ​$25 ​dollar ​discount
Classic- ​$50 ​dollar ​discount
GEMS- ​$100 ​dollar ​discount ​