b'Continued commitment from the city and county doesnt stop, says Johnson. They understand that downtown is the heartbeat of the community. Visible ResultsThe first enhancement project was a pocket park located at the south entrance to downtown. Southwest Georgia Bank donated the land and provided monetary assistance to build the park adjacent to its home office. We were more than willing to step up and do our part to help kick-off the revitalization efforts, says Ross Dekle, Moultrie region president for Southwest Georgia Bank. Shop Local: Mary Ann Smith, owner of Cranford Jewelry, withSouthwest Georgia Bank started in Moultrie in 1928, and we Shelby Kent, assistant, look over the stores holiday merchandiseunderstand that a thriving downtown is the heartbeat of a With a long list of lofty goals, the enhancement plan includescommunity. streetscape projects, business recruitment, increased numberJohnson says the generous donation from Southwest of residential units, added green space, a welcome center, andGeorgia Bank and other contributors helped start the further removal of blight in the downtown area.revitalization efforts.It was almost like a wish list, says Johnson. There were manyWe added benches and landscaping, and the city provided ideas, but there was no funding for the projects. streetscape work on the sidewalks and placed utility linesMoving from talking to action, several groups rallied togetherunderground, says Johnson. Next door, Southwest Georgia to raise approximately $1 million to fund some of the projectsBank renovated its parking lot and added trees, along with a outlined in the enhancement plan.decorative wrought iron fence. The downtown area is becoming more of a destination for families to shop, eat, and become part of all the events.- ROSS DEKLEEveryone now shares a common vision, says Johnson. We areAfter a successful opening of the pocket park, work began very fortunate to have this level of commitment.on a second park. Building the Mule Barn Park helped to eliminate blight and made the area much more attractive. Representing the importance of partnerships, Johnson credits support from the Downtown Development Authority, DowntownThe site also has historical significance, she says about the Moultrie Tomorrow, and the Downtown Moultrie Association, assites name, which references a location where farmers came well as buy-in from local government and businesses. to purchase mules. 56 SG MAGAZINE| FALL 2019 BUSINESS + CULTURE57'