City of Cedartown Selected for Revitalization Initiative

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

Update: Rossville EDRP Project

At 1.2 million square feet, the 27-acre Peerless Mills site is the largest parcel in the heart of Rossville, Georgia. Located just three miles south of downtown Chattanooga in Tennessee, Rossville’s downtown revitalization will largely be shaped by the redevelopment of the Peerless property.  Since the Great Recession, rural downtowns across the country are undergoing a redevelopment renaissance. While larger communities like Chattanooga have amenities that draw talent, the cost of starting a business and the overall cost of living to be “close to everything” can be burdensome. Recognizing the opportunity to capitalize on their assets, the city of Rossville and the ReDev Workshop submitted an application to the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) for an assessment of their strategic priorities for the local government to use as a roadmap to pursue the city’s economic development goals. The objective is not to re-invent the wheel, but to suggest actions that will enable the city of Rossville to prioritize its most pressing needs, and to help enhance and strengthen the work of the ReDev Workshop.

Most of Rossville, including the Peerless Mills site, is located in a federally designated Opportunity Zone (OZ), which encourages private investors to take an equity stake in economic development through local businesses, real estate, or development projects in exchange for a reduction in tax liability over time. However, Rossville has not yet seen this infusion of much needed private investment from the OZ program. With this in mind, Georgia Tech recommended that Rossville focus on improving its public stormwater infrastructure and activate its downtown development association (DDA), which would provide a strong foundation for the eventual redevelopment of the Peerless Mills complex and facilitate other development in the city. 

Outcomes of the Study: Rossville was recently designated by DCA as a “Rural Zone” community

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. EDRP is available to eligible communities across eight southeastern U.S. states. Applications are currently being accepted to EDRP, please apply here.

The Thread Trail Lagrange, GA

In September 2016, the City of LaGrange, GA adopted a plan to construct 29 miles of interconnected multimodal trails throughout the city.  Known as The Thread Trail, the non-motorized and environmentally-friendly facility will provide a safe place to walk, cycle and hold special events.

The Thread Trail’s estimated cost is $23 million and would be funded over a 15 year period with a Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The first phase of The Thread Trail began in early 2017 as a demonstration “model mile” anchored around Granger Park.

According to the Trust for Public Land, property values near parks and trails are frequently higher than properties located where there is little or no greenspace. Increasing property values frequently leads to a corresponding increase in property tax revenues generated.

Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research will be working closely with the city to establish a baseline value of properties in close proximity to the trail. The values of these parcels will be tracked over time and compared to properties elsewhere in the city in order to demonstrate the positive impact on property values and to help measure the economic benefits of The Thread Trail.

For project-related questions, contact:

Alan Durham

Phone: 404-385-5137

Email: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@mahrud.nala