Downtowns across the country are seeing revitalization as new businesses move into traditional city centers, and new data from the Atlanta Regional Commission suggests Douglasville is no exception.
The ARC collected data from banks and other lending institutions to track where small business loans, defined as those for less than $1 million, are going. The organization used the data for 2015 to create a map showcasing the number of loans in each census tract in metro Atlanta.
Hot spots in the map included large swaths of the northern metro Atlanta region, central Paulding County, western Fayette County and a small tract clustered around downtown Douglasville.
The data shows that at least 195 small business loans were originated in the downtown area last year, which is no surprise to Douglas County Chamber of Commerce Vice President Sara Ray.
“The city is working hard to create a more vibrant downtown with more retail businesses, boutiques, shops and restaurants,” Ray said.
Ray credited Douglasville Main Street Manager April McKown for her hard work bringing new businesses to the city.
“[McKown] started in 2014 and has done an amazing job encouraging businesses to locate in downtown Douglasville,” Ray said.
Along with businesses, new events keep cropping up downtown, such as Food Truck Mondays during the warm months of the year.
“That’s been really significant in driving people to come downtown,” said Ray.
The city has also instituted facade grant programs to make it easier for businesses to secure funding to improve their exteriors.
Another factor aiding downtown Douglasville is the city’s growing status in the film industry. Ray said the old jail is consistently booked up with filming crews and that “Stranger Things,” the hit Netflix show that’s partially filmed downtown, is back filming a second season.
While the film crews don’t necessarily occupy buildings on a permanent basis, they do bring dollars to the area and have even repainted and restored buildings for film sets.
The Chamber partners with both the Douglasville Downtown Development Authority and the Development Authority of Douglas County to aid business creation and retention.
“We all work collaboratively to help with what people need,” Ray said.