DDDA, UGA to look at downtown's economic impact

The University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government will perform an economic impact study of the downtown Dalton business district, which is expected to be available near the end of April next year.

Downtown Dalton merchants know the downtown area has a big economic impact on the city, but until now there have been no hard numbers, said Downtown Dalton Development Authority (DDDA) Interim Director George Woodward.

Woodward said the DDDA has recently asked the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government to perform an economic impact study of the downtown business district, which basically stretches from Waugh Street to the north to Morris Street to the south and from the railroad tracks to the east to Thornton Avenue to the west. The DDDA promotes trade and development within the district. The Carl Vinson Institute works with elected officials and local agencies to promote better governance.

"It will start Jan. 1, 2020, and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of April," Woodward said Tuesday night at City Hall at the DDDA's annual meeting. "Wes Clarke, who will head up the project, will make a presentation to the DDDA board and then to the mayor and City Council and general public."

The study will look at how many businesses are in the downtown district, how many jobs they support, how much revenue they produce and how much sales tax they generate, among other things.

Woodward briefed downtown business and property owners on the DDDA's past year. He said downtown has hosted 38 concerts and other events so far this year that have had an estimated 25,000 people in attendance.

The DDDA and Believe Greater Dalton, a public-private partnership of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and local governments formed two years ago to implement a five-year strategic plan for Dalton and Whitfield County, released the first master plan for the downtown district earlier this year. The plan calls for more public art and more housing downtown.

The DDDA will hold the inaugural lighting of a Christmas tree at the Burr Performing Arts Park on Saturday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m., and Christmas caroling on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m., also in Burr Park.

Juan Lama defeated Bob Caperton to win his fourth straight three-year term as a property owners' representative on the DDDA board. JaneMarie Wilson was elected without opposition to her second straight three-year term as a business owners' representative on the board.

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