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Glover updates Kiwanis Club on Downtown Development

Kiwanis Club held their weekly meeting on Thursday, where the guest speaker was Downtown Development Authority Director Amanda Glover.

Glover spoke to the club about the growth downtown has seen this past year and some of the current projects the DDA is working on.

In April, Downtown Bainbridge will celebrate their 30th year of being a Mainstreet Community in the state of Georgia. The DDA is currently collecting photographs and making a video to show the changes made since Bainbridge has been designated a Mainstreet Community.

The past five years is where Downtown has seen most of its growth, according to Glover.

“One of the things that has been helpful is the RURAL tax zone,” Glover said. “Only 10 are designated a year.”

Glover said when Downtown first applied to be a RURAL tax zone in 2017, they had a 24 percent vacancy rate with 41 vacant or blighted structures; however, it has now been reduced to a 7 percent vacancy rate with only 12 vacant properties downtown.

“It’s tremendous, we haven’t had these types of numbers in the last 10 years,” Glover said.

This has provided more than $800,000 in state tax incentives.

Examples of businesses in the RURAL tax zone include Southern Philosophy, Diablo’s, J. Christine Esthetique and the upcoming Willis Park Hotel.

These businesses now have five years to allocate these tax credits.

“It’s been a great program for the folks who have invested in our downtown,” Glover said.

Glover added that this year has been particularly great for downtown businesses. She said they polled the businesses after Christmas and they reported a better year this year than last.

Isaac’s Bakery is one of the many businesses that thrived.

According to Glover, the community came out and strongly supported Isaac’s Bakery during Easter.

“She was able to make a whole one-month mortgage payment just from people buying Easter petit fors,” Glover said. “The community stepped up and stepped out and really supported our local businesses.”

Glover then detailed their upcoming work plan, which includes beautification and a bike rack campaign.

The campaign will include selling the racks for $300 and setting them up around downtown Bainbridge. She encourages any clubs or businesses interested in purchasing one to reach out, as they intend to purchase 15.

Glover said they also are hoping to expand their murals, beyond the “Hey Y’all” one.

The new mural will be near Wayne’s World that will hopefully be interactive and draw into the place making of Bainbridge.

Finally, Glover said the Hook and Ladder is primarily complete, along with the playground and is now up for rent and is available daily for lunch and dinner to sit and enjoy the outdoors.