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Destination Canton

I recall the days when downtown Canton was a place people only visited when they had official business at government offices or perhaps a court appearance at the Justice Center. One Saturday afternoon in 2010 when the post office was still downtown, I was working in my office and walked across the street to check the mail. I may have been the only person downtown at the time and happened to stop a car that was driving the wrong way down E. Main Street. The couple said they saw signs for downtown Canton and were just looking for the shops and restaurants. I sadly informed them they were wasting their time and sent them on their way.

I returned to my office and immediately sent an email to the mayor. I told him about the incident and stated the obvious — of course, people should expect to find great shops and restaurants in our charming and well-preserved downtown district. More alarming to me was the fact that there was almost no one downtown in the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful Saturday. In typical fashion, the mayor agreed and appointed me to chair a committee to study revitalization of our core business district, which quickly evolved into Canton's Main Street program.

Fast forward a little over a decade later, after a lot of hard work by many dedicated citizen volunteers and the shared vision of City leaders and staff, and historic downtown Canton is set to host the Georgia Downtown Conference August 21-24. This annual conference attracts more than 200 downtown professionals from all over the state to network, learn, and grow through a variety of session topics and tours.

The conference is designed to further educate individuals on issues affecting downtown development on a national and statewide level, reinforce existing downtown development efforts, and help plan for future initiatives. Yes, the Coolest Small Town in America will be showcased as never before to our colleagues and other professionals from cities across Georgia, and they will experience the positive impact that happens when a community comes together to "plan its work and work its plan."

While the conference will focus on downtown, the attendees will be staying in hotels and dining in our wonderful restaurants all around the city. They will also see our great parks, the Etowah River and Trail System, the award-winning Mill on Etowah development, Lake Canton, and many other projects and initiatives made possible by our Roadmap for Success.

I could not be prouder of our city, downtown, and our community, and it will be an excellent opportunity to share our success with others. I want to acknowledge Canton's Downtown Development Manager Velinda Hardy for her efforts with the Georgia Downtown Association as well as all those who have helped move Canton forward over the past decade. Let's celebrate how far we've come in a relatively short period of time and remain positive about our promising future. 

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