Monday, March 10, 2014

Woodstock Downtown wins 
statewide award!

by Michelle Babcock of the Cherokee Tribune

From left, Main Street Woodstock representative Mitzi Saxon stands with Billy Peppers of the Georgia Office of Downtown Development and Julie Kingsley, chairman of Main Street Woodstock board of directors, after the city received the Award of Excellence in Economic Development at the Georgia Main Street 35th anniversary banquet on Feb. 26. <br> Special to the Tribune
From left, Main Street Woodstock representative Mitzi Saxon stands with Billy Peppers of the Georgia Office of Downtown Development and Julie Kingsley, chairman of Main Street Woodstock board of directors, after the city received the Award of Excellence in Economic Development at the Georgia Main Street 35th anniversary banquet on Feb. 26.
Special to the Tribune
DOUGLASVILLE — Woodstock was one of 12 Georgia cities recognized for its downtown area improvements in 2013, just three years after gaining Main Street accreditation.

Woodstock officials were presented with the Award of Excellence in Economic Development at the Georgia Main Street 35th anniversary banquet on Feb. 26.

Mitzi Saxon, with Woodstock’s Office of Economic Development and Downtown Development Authority, was at the banquet to accept the award on behalf of the city.

“It was such an honor to receive this award because we strive to make downtown Woodstock a destination that people want to visit — we want them to come eat at our restaurants and shop at our shops — and we want to shine,” Saxon said. “For us to win for the entire state was an honor.”

The Georgia Main Street Program is housed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and Commissioner Gretchen Corbin said the state’s Main Streets “are the jewels of our state, and play a critical part in economic development.”

“Establishing a vibrant and flourishing downtown speaks volumes about a community’s commitment to economic growth for its citizens and its businesses,” Corbin said.

Woodstock’s Main Street program became nationally accredited in 2010, and has since welcomed 229 new businesses, created 496 new housing units and completed 78 building rehabilitations in the area.

Saxon said this is Woodstock’s first time winning a Georgia Main Street award for economic development, and said the achievement reflects city officials’ shared vision “to keep Woodstock growing and doing well.”

“It’s a very big deal,” Saxon said Friday. “I think this award is a statement to how well our city manager, city council, Downtown Development Authority and Main Street program all work together with the same goal and vision. Without the approval of all of these organizations, none of this would’ve been able to happen.”

The winner of the economic development award is determined using 16 factors, and the Woodstock Main Street Program achieved the first-place position in eight of the 16 economic indicators.

“It includes multiple factors — anything from new houses, new business, new jobs created, private and public investment — it consists of a lot of different things,” Saxon said.

One of the indicators that Woodstock took first place in was total number of new jobs created, adding 1,291 jobs in 2013. Saxon said the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta had a big impact on the number of jobs in the city in 2013.

“Having the outlet mall open in the city limits of Woodstock, that’s where a lot of the new jobs that were created came from,” she said.

The 2013 opening of Woodstock West by Walton, along with a bustling downtown business area, put Woodstock at No. 1 in two additional indicators — total number of new housing units and total number of new businesses.

“Walton opening with over 300 apartments also counted in our favor,” Saxon said. “At this point, we only have one true space available in the downtown area for any new business that want to come in. It’s a good problem to have, but we have people calling daily, wanting to locate their business in downtown Woodstock and we just don’t have any place to put them.”

The city of Woodstock welcomed 179 new businesses in 2013, many opening in the new outlet mall.


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