Main Street Program Director Teri Haler shows off the dining alley courtyard off Porterdale’s Main Street. The city recently added the tables and chairs to create an outdoor dining area. In the future, Haler would like to add canopy lighting to brighten the dining experience. (Staff Photo: Jessicah Peters)
PORTERDALE — The town of Porterdale joins 18 other Georgia cities selected to become part of the Main Street Start-up Program.
The program, administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (GDCA), provides technical assistance to cities looking to improve downtown areas.
“We’re really excited about being one of the few selected to be part of this program. Our downtown really needs another shove when it comes to establishing new businesses and helping the current ones,” said Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman.
Porterdale Downtown Director Teri Haler will be the Main Street program director. She began working with the town in July.
“Teri has a tremendous amount of experience on every level. We feel that we’ve picked the right person at the right time and are very confident she will do a fabulous job in turning the right corners,” Chapman said.
One of Haler’s goals is to capitalize on the town’s assets.
“Our houses and buildings have historic value. We have the textile mill and the Yellow River,” Haler said. “One of my main goals is to develop historic tours to bring visitors to the area. I also want to continue to draw the film industry as well as new businesses into the downtown district.”
Porterdale’s application for the Main Street program stood out among others because of its local support for improvement to the community and teamwork shown in the past two years.
The town was one of only three recipients in the state to receive the Renaissance Fellowship for downtown design and is the recipient of more than $700,000 in grant funding.
The funding helped housing rehabilitation and land acquisition for the Yellow River Park as well as restoration of the historic train depot’s interior. The town also used SPLOST funds and private donations to repurpose the 1938 Porter Memorial Gymnasium into an outdoor courtyard/event venue.
“Our record of the new programs and projects implemented showed on paper that we’re ready to become a Main Street community,” Haler said.
Other significant developments in the past year include establishing one of only five drug-free commercial zones in the state through the General Assembly and state approval of an opportunity zone, which provides substantial tax credits for businesses locating within the zone.
The Main Street program focuses on four core areas: design, organization, economic restructuring and promotion.
Since 1980, the Main Street Four-Point Approach to downtown revitalization has been used by more than 2,000 communities nationwide to stimulate more than 235,000 building rehabilitation projects and create 475,000 jobs.
“Georgia has seen renewed interest in downtown revitalization. We’re committed to helping our communities become great places to live, work and play. Our Main Street Program is one of our best examples of our technical assistance to local governments,” said Gretchen Corbin, GDCA commissioner.