0418 GEM WEB

From left are Monroe City Council Member Ross Bradley, Mainstreet Coordinator Leigh Ann Walker, DDA Chair Lisa Anderson, DDA board member Charles Sanders, Monroe Economic Development Director Sadie Krawczyk, DDA board member Whit Holder, and Tara Bradshaw with the Office of Downtown Development.

Monroe is no longer a hidden gem. The quaint small town nicknamed “City of Governors” has now been designated a Georgia Exceptional Main Street community. Monroe is one of 20 Georgia cities to receive the 2021 honor.

“We are very excited about receiving this designation. It’s quite an honor,” Monroe Economic Development Director Sadie Krawczyk said.

Georgia Main Street (GEM) program representative Tara Bradshaw officially announced the recognition during Tuesday’s Monroe City Council meeting. The city earned the title due to its “successful implementation of business-driven strategy,” according to Bradshaw, an economic development specialist with the Office of Downtown Development. Bradshaw’s office comes under the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and manages the GEM program.

Monroe Downtown has made “a strong and positive impact” on the community by putting the Main Street Approach into practice, Bradshaw said.

“The Main Street Approach® is a proven methodology that empowers communities to utilize their distinctive assets, such as their independent businesses and historic character, to revive their commercial districts, strengthen local economies and increase civic engagement,” GEM program representatives said in a statement.

During the past three years, downtown Monroe has witnessed $18.4 million in private and public investment, the creation of 47 new businesses and 133 new jobs, Bradshaw told the City Council. Bradshaw’s office works with 104 cities across the state. These towns are committed to the growth of their historic commercial districts, she said.

Cities that participate in the program must meet 10 standards during an annual assessment process each year in order to become an accredited Main Street city, Bradshaw explained. Monroe excelled in all 10 standards, she said.

The GEM program will award a gateway sign to the city, Bradshaw told the council. The welcome sign will depict Monroe as an exceptional Main Street city.

Main Street America has helped revitalize historic commercial districts for more than 40 years, according to the GEM statement.

Main Street America is, “a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development,” the statement reads.

Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $74.73 billion in new public and private investment.

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