Office of Downtown Development
The City of Rome created the Office of Downtown Development and River Development in 1994 and hired a full-time director at the urging of the Development Authority. In 2000, the position was redefined as Downtown Development and Historic Preservation until 2003 when Preservation was moved to the Planning Department. The position is now devoted, full time, to the revitalization of the downtown district. The Director staffs the Downtown Development Authority oversees the Main Street Program, and the parking program, as well as serving as a ready point of contact for prospects, project management, and administering the downtown revolving loan fund. Other staff members include a parking enforcement officer. Some limited administration assistance is provided through the City's Community Development Department. Board meetings are held the second Thursday of every month in the Carnegie Building located at 607 Broad Street.
Downtown Development Authority
The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was established in 1981 in accordance with the Downtown Development Authority Law. The purpose of the DDA is "the revitalization and redevelopment of the central business district of the city; to develop and promote for the public good and general welfare trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities and to promote the general welfare of the state of Georgia." The city appoints a seven-member Board of Directors for four-year terms. The DDA is both a public agency and a private organization. The nature of the DDA brings advantages because their sole concern is the downtown area, avoiding unrelated issues. City officials, businesses, and civic leaders cannot do this because downtown is only one area of concern. The DDA powers include: to purchase and own property; to lease or rent; to finance projects; to receive government grants or loans; to execute contracts; to finance projects; and to receive tax monies. The DDA is primarily a policy and decision-making body and may also be a land developer, landlord, planning organization, or project manager. The DDA's director administers the day-to-day revitalization efforts.
The Main Street Program
The Rome Main Street Program is a part of a national program that encourages economic improvement and physical renovations in downtowns. The Main Street Program builds on the total image, not just a facelift of aging buildings.
Much of Main Street's focus is on intangibles: ideas, attitudes, and economic opportunities. A positive perception by the community must be won and continually renewed. Downtown's current condition is the product of a long and gradual change. It will take time and consistent effort to reverse negatives that have occurred. Change is only going to occur as the result of step-by-step actions. Georgia entered the program in 1980, selected as one of six demonstration states by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The goal is to achieve revitalization within the context of historic preservation stressing self-reliance through partnerships. Rome was accepted into the program in 1981. The Rome Program is jointly sponsored by the City and the DDA, with the DDA as an administrator of the program.
Private & Public Sector Support
The Main Street Process is a four-point approach implemented with private and public sector support:
- Business Development: Redefining downtown's position by recruiting new and complementary businesses, finding new uses for buildings and working with existing businesses to improve their ability to target their market.
- Design: Improving the physical appearance through attention to buildings, signs, and public areas.
- Organization: Identifying and strengthening the ability of leaders to work together managing their businesses.
- Promotion: It is the RDDA's philosophy that promotion should be a collective effort on behalf of the merchants.
For more information on the Main Street Program:
- Department of Community Affairs Office of Downtown Development
- Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
- National Trust for Historic Preservation National Main Street Center