The city of LaFayette is refocusing its mission with a new initiative aimed at improving the community and engaging more of the city's residents.
Usually it's the chamber of commerce that rallies businesses and engages community members, but as a city without one, Main Street Manager and city employee Scott Underwood said officials and volunteers have created the "Hive" to gather citizens and help promote the city. In a beehive, all the bees must work together for a common goal, which is the inspiration for the new initiative's name, Underwood explained.
"When you have a chamber of commerce, it's something everybody feels like they are a part of, and that's why we wanted to make the Hive," he said, "so everybody feels like they have something to be part of and it's getting everybody to work together."
While not exactly a chamber of commerce, the Hive consists of five focus groups made up of volunteers from the community. Anyone can be a volunteer and no one will be excluded, Underwood said. The five groups are: recreation and outdoors; events; planning, zoning and architecture; beautification; and business development and recruitment.
For example, the Hive's recreational group will promote the outdoors with bird-watching events, hiking meet-ups and other similar activities. The Hive's events group will plan the city's Honeybee Festival and annual Easter egg hunt, coming up March 24, among other events. The planning, zoning and architecture committee will often work closely with the beautification group to clean up and improve areas of downtown and the rest of LaFayette.
City employee Chris Finkbone is helping to lead the business development and recruitment committee. Finkbone is also a member of the city's Downtown Development Authority.
"We are trying to get everybody actively engaged," Finkbone told members at the most recent DDA meeting. Each DDA member will also sit on a committee and serve as a liaison between the two groups.
The city's downtown area already has four areas it was focusing on as part of an accredited "Main Street" program by the state of Georgia: promotion, design, economic vitality and organization.
Finkbone said those four points are broader, and the Hive will help narrow those into a more focused initiative for the city.
One change the Hive events committee is spearheading means there will no longer be "Movie in the Park" events this year. Instead, Underwood said there will be a similar series with music, food vendors, inflatables and more family-friendly activities that allow children to run around and have fun. The group hopes to have the first event this spring, he said, but it could be as late as September.
One of the Hive's main purposes is to help keep all members of the community in the loop, Underwood added.
"I've found that oftentimes the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing," he said. "This concept will grow in ways we don't quite know yet. We just want something where everybody can come together."
To volunteer with the Hive, email the city of LaFayette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Allison Shirk at email@example.com.