Here are the 18 other cities joining the Georgia Main Street Start-up program:
• Avondale Estates
• Ball Ground
• Holly Springs
Officials say Ringgold's selection into Georgia's Main Street Start-up Program will allow the city to more easily recruit businesses, build downtown events and entice tourists.
Ringgold was among 19 cities selected this year to join the 2014-15 Main Street program, which can help towns connect with state agencies, compete for grant funds, access training and locate low-interest loans to better their downtowns.
"For us, the Main Street program specifically gives us a tool set," said Joseph Brellenthin, Ringgold's director of downtown development.
The 19 cities included this year will join 96 other Georgia Main Street communities. Through the program, they'll receive help with budgeting, leadership development and work to meet standards set by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
"In line with national trends, Georgia has seen renewed interest in downtown revitalization," Gretchen Corbin, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which houses the Main Street program, said in a news release. "We're committed to helping our communities become great places to live, work and play, and our Main Street Program is one of our best examples of our technical assistance to Georgia's local governments."
Since 1980, the national program has helped more than 2,000 cities by focusing on four areas: design, organization, economic restructuring and promotion.
Ringgold already has between 60 and 70 businesses in the downtown area, Brellenthin said. Located just off Interstate 75, the city is uniquely positioned to draw in tourists visiting both Atlanta and Chattanooga, he said. By participating in the Main Street program, the city will work to increase tourism, boost business presence, improve streetscaping and add more recurring events downtown.
"Everybody in the community benefits when we can get a lot of thriving small businesses attracted to downtown," Brellenthin said. "When you can increase the variety of places to shop and do business, that's a benefit for everybody, not just the business owners."
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249.