Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Research Program Selects City of Cedartown for Revitalization Initiative
Six-month project to help city develop, plan short and long-term
economic development goals for job growth, downtown revitalization
ATLANTA— The Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) at the Georgia Institute of Technology is working with Cedartown to help a coalition of civic and business leaders develop a strategic assessment plan to guide the city’s economic development efforts.
The strategic assessment process with the northwest Georgia city includes a comprehensive analysis of the community, which will include interviews with local partners and regional stakeholders in surrounding Polk County. The completed assessment will also guide downtown redevelopment and business attraction efforts.
The project began in January 2022 and is expected to take six months to complete.
“The EDRP’s core mission is to provide research that will help propel communities into a more competitive position, and this strategic assessment is one of the first steps in that process for the city of Cedartown,” said Candice McKie, EDRP project manager. “Ultimately, this assessment will help guide downtown redevelopment efforts and align them with Cedartown’s vision, leverage its assets, and maximize small business and job growth objectives.”
The assessment’s findings will help define Cedartown’s strengths and areas of opportunity, and provide a preliminary vision to guide the city on attainable, effective actions to reach its short and long-term economic development goals. The strategic assessment will also aid Cedartown as it prepares its application to obtain “Rural Zone” designation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
As Polk’s county seat, Cedartown falls within the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission area, a 15-county body that provides several services to its member jurisdictions, including aging programs, workforce development, transportation, and local/regional planning.
Located about an hour’s drive west of Atlanta, Cedartown is roughly nine square miles in area and home to about 10,000. Incorporated as a city in 1854, Cedartown’s downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its distinctive 1890s-era architectural style. The community’s outdoor attractions and amenities include Big Spring (the South’s largest natural limestone spring) and the Silver Comet Trail.
Even with Cedartown’s cultural and natural amenities, local officials say the city is ready for revitalization. That desire fueled their drive to apply to the EDRP for assistance in creating a downtown redevelopment plan.
“This is a tremendous program, and we are blessed to be a part of it. Having a strategic assessment plan will allow us to stay focused on our goals for downtown revitalization,” said Cedartown City Commission Chairman Andrew Carter. “This effort will open the door to new business and employment opportunities. Georgia Tech is a great partner to have and we’re really looking forward to studying the data they will provide us.”
Funded through a U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center grant, EDRP serves rural and economically distressed communities in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Powered by Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research, EDRP leverages Tech’s assets to help communities engineer economic development success through affordable, in-depth research.
Communities that apply for a research grant must commit local funds, based on their capacity. That local funding maximizes resources and ensures community involvement through all research project phases. Some recent EDRP studies include projects in Meriwether, Twiggs, and Walker counties.
About the Economic Development Research Program (EDRP)
EDRP is Georgia Tech’s signature program for providing affordable economic development research and analysis capacity for communities that need it the most. EDRP is funded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center grant program (Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is a designated EDA University Center). EDRP is available to eligible communities across eight southeastern U.S. states. To learn more, visit cedr.gatech.edu/edrp