President's Welcome

I would like to extend a warm welcome to you, on behalf of the Georgia Downtown Association (GDA) board! Whether you’re a seasoned downtown professional, a new Main Street manager, or one of the many partners who fuel the growth and development of downtowns across the state, GDA is here to serve and support your efforts.

Since 1999, GDA has been the uniting force for downtown professionals in Georgia –connecting professionals to each other, to the tools and training needed for our profession, and to business and government partners. This legacy is why we recently updated our mission statement to be: connect communities and equip professionals through training and networking to strengthen and advocate for Georgia’s downtowns.

Over the past few years, GDA has strengthened our operations, allowing us to focus on offering our members the highest quality training and networking opportunities. Last year, we revamped and launched the new and improved Certified Downtown Professional (CDP) program. Classes are well underway, and we were thrilled to have 91 enrolled in the first classes held in Americus and Canton in 2023. CDP will continue to be a viable training program that will teach new and established professionals alike the most current tools for downtown development. In the past 2 years, we shifted from hosting our annual conference at convention centers and brought this signature event back to the heart of our downtown communities. We will all have a special treat this August when we take over downtown Thomasville for what is sure to be our best conference yet. And we’ve created regular opportunities for downtown professionals to gather and explore our wonderful downtowns throughout the state through our regional meet-ups. Last year, 285 members visited 10 communities. I am particularly proud of how our Legislative Committee has expanded its advocacy efforts, most recently addressing the House Rural Development Council about the importance of the Rural Zone designation for our downtowns across the state of Georgia.

All of these changes have been possible because of the foundation laid and years of hard work by the pioneering downtown professionals who preceded us, who understood the need for a professional association specific to our industry and our ever-changing scope of work. As we embark on a new phase of the Georgia Downtown Association, I would like to thank our founders and previous board members who helped grow and sustain our association to be what it is today. 

But we’re not done. With your support, we will continue to be the leading advocate for Georgia’s downtowns and provide all of you with the best education and networking opportunities available. Thank you for your membership and continued support of the Georgia Downtown Association. I look forward to another record-breaking year and seeing what we collectively accomplish as the voice for Georgia’s downtowns.  


Emily Hopkins
Vice President of External Affairs and Main Street Macon Manager