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Downtown partnership finalized
Effort aims to increase economic development
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Plans have been finalized to move forward with developing a vision to help stir economic development in downtown Dawsonville.

Members of the Dawsonville Downtown Development Authority on Sept. 19 formalized a partnership with the Fanning Institute of the University of Georgia.

"Our downtown has a rich history and is the heart of our community," said Mayor James Grogan, a supporter of the undertaking.

The city council has committed $15,000 toward the project in 2012. The overall cost is about $20,000, according to Nick Nicodemus, authority chairman.

With a focus on revitalizing the historic district, enhancing the gateways that lead in and out of downtown and improving connectivity, the vision plan will be based on data collected through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, surveys and town hall meetings.

"Communication in this plan is going to be key," said Chris Gaines, the city council's representative on the authority. "The reason we're doing this is to benefit the community, so we want to have their input."

Several local business leaders have agreed to serve on a steering committee and work as liaisons between the community and Fanning Institute researchers to collect input.

A long-range revitalization plan was developed for the city of Dawsonville years ago.

But according to authority members, it was eventually dismissed due to an unrealistic idea of Dawsonville's true identity.

"It was about the time that Helen was becoming a success and there were talks of creating a Scottish town here," said longtime authority member Phil Goodson.

The new vision effort will review past plans, identify Dawsonville's assets, including its unique history, establish priorities and develop goals and strategies that can be implemented in one to three years.

Gaines said the ultimate goal is to create a safe and vibrant downtown area.

"It's going to take time to implement a long-range plan like what we're looking at, but I hope in the next year, we'll see the overall plan solidified and have a roadmap to move us forward," he said.

The steering committee's first meeting will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 in Dawsonville city hall.