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Vidalia Awarded Over $4M For Entrepreneurial Center

Vidalia is among nine communities in Georgia that will benefit from a $17.25 million allocation of Rural Downtown Development Funds announced on Thursday by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

This grant, which provides $4,059,474 to the Toombs County Development Authority (TCDA), along with $750,000 OneGA funds and a $859,386 local match, are earmarked for the Greater Vidalia Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Vidalia, said Michele Johnson, Greater Vidalia Chamber President.

Johnson said the Center will serve as a site for facilitating Georgia Power’s Cultivating Rural Entrepreneurs and continued from page

Transforming Economies Program (CREATE). Recently, Toombs County was named as one of six communities in the state selected for the program. “It is so nice to know we can now simultaneously develop a physical facility and programming to grow our community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Johnson said.

The Center, to be located at 204 East First Street in downtown Vidalia, will be a valuable tool in the economic toolkit of the region. “It will be a means to revitalize and enhance the downtown areas, create new job opportunities for area residents, create higher wage jobs, contribute to the growth and success of emerging businesses and will be a source to generate new tax revenue,” Johnson said. She noted that the Center will also serve as a rural model for entrepreneurial place making. “These factors will provide the long-term metrics against which to measure the success of the Center.”

The cost of the proposed 14,200-square-foot facility Center is estimated at $5,668,860. The Center will be owned by the TCDA and will include a mix of flexible lease space, shared common use of common space and equipment, direct business assistance and guidance, mentoring, networking to capital and other technical resources, as well as direct access to the Greater Vidalia Chamber and the TCDA. DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn announced the awards to nine communities to implement innovative downtown redevelopment projects throughout rural Georgia. The DCA provided the grants under a special allocation of funding in the Amended FY2022 State of Georgia Budget (H.B. 910). “These projects represent strategic investments in revitalizing downtown districts. Downtowns are the heart and economic centers of so many of our communities. These funds will assist in creating a sense of place and connectivity to residents which promote the economic vitality of our downtowns.”

The grant was awarded to cities and downtown development authorities that illustrated a need for improvements and the ability to implement the grants by the June 30, 2024, deadline. Selected projects represent a geographical distribution of various project types, including streetscape Improvements, public infrastructure Improvements and workforce development. The award selection process was highly competitive as 53 applications were received requesting over $104 million.

Besides Vidalia, other communities receiving the grant were: • Bainbridge, City of (Chason Park Expansion Project) – $1,261,008 • Darien Downtown Development Authority (Rehabilitation and Construction of Downtown Docks) – $1,662,510 • Dublin, City of (Mad ison Street Redevelopment Project) – $3,328,773 • Monroe, City of (Construction of a Downtown Green) – $2,126,340 • Ringgold, City of (Streetscape and Revitalization Project) $1,421,316 • Tiffion, City of (Com merce Way Redevelopment Project) – $955,140 • Toccoa, City of (Tugulo Street Park and Streetscape) – $689,042 • Villa Rica, City of (Transportation Reunification Program).

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