Bainbridge honored as GEM community for fourth year in a row

Published 6:34 pm Friday, April 14, 2017

For the fourth consecutive year, Bainbridge has been selected for the Georgia Exceptional Main Streets Program (GEM). The GEM Program is a program that offers support to cities that have shown a commitment to their community.

Four years ago Bainbridge fought through a rigorous selection process in Atlanta to be named one of four cities to receive the award.

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According to Amanda Glover, the Executive Director of Downtown Development, the program offers design support for the communities along with  staff development and board training to assist with growth.

Along with the support received through the program, the award boasts well for Bainbridge.

The selection is chosen based off of performance through a set criteria and standards where the communities are awarded points.

According to Glover, the standards are communities have to have broad community support, have a current vision and mission statement, have a comprehensive work plan, have a strong historic preservation ethic, active board a committees, adequate operating budget, paid professional staff, programs of on-going training, reporting of key statistics and be a member of the National Main Street network.

“A lot of it is criteria that we have been meeting,” said Glover when asked about the criteria. “Up until 2005, we weren’t meeting the preservation ethic as strong as we do now. Prior to ’05, we did not have a preservation ordinance.”

By adopting a preservation ordinance, Bainbridge strengthened their resume to begin the process of being named a GEM community.

Along with government improvement, a lot of the criteria also has to do with how the private sector has performed over the year. Bainbridge has performed well to boost their resume in that area as well.

“Bainbridge should be very proud of what the private sector has done to maintain and how we’ve been able to have public and private partnership to assist them,” says Glover. “All of that works together. We’re among the ranks of Rome, Thomasville, Valdosta, Toccoa, Milledgeville, Moultrie and Tifton. For Bainbridge, We’re smaller than a lot of those communities, so there’s a lot to be said for the work that has been done here.”