CITY OF RESIDENCE: Byron
OCCUPATION: Manager, Byron Better Hometown
QUESTION: What is Byron Better Hometown?
ANSWER: Byron Better Hometown promotes and helps preserve Byrons downtown district. Its Byrons expression of the statewide Better Hometown and Main Street programs. Byron has a big history and downtown is part of it. We want to make sure its there to enjoy for generations to come.
QUESTION: How do you promote and preserve downtown?
ANSWER: One way is by keeping people aware its there and is a great place to go. Part of how we do that is through ongoing events and activities. That way people see theres always a good reason to come downtown to do business and have a good time. We also have an economic reconstruction committee that works toward encouraging business and economic growth.
QUESTION: What are some of the particular activities you sponsor or coordinate?
ANSWER: We have things like the Byron Farmers Market April through August at Jailhouse Alley Park, Nightmare on Main Street at Halloween, the Christmas parade and the Gingerbread Market with arts and crafts during the holiday season. We also have smaller events like Peaches in the Park as part of the farmers market during the annual Peach Festival and an ice cream event thats similar to it. We have kids days and other activities--all kinds of things.
QUESTION: When did Byron Better Hometown start?
ANSWER: In 2000.
QUESTION: How is it funded?
ANSWER: Its funded by the city. Its part of a statewide program, but the state doesnt fund it. The state provides a framework for Better Hometown and Main Street managers to get together and share ideas.
QUESTION: Whats the difference between Better Hometown and Main Street programs?
ANSWER: Main Street is for towns with populations over 5,000. Better Hometown is for communities under 5,000. Each is geared toward encouraging development and keeping small towns and downtowns from disappearing. They help with strategies to strengthen core commercial areas and keep an eye on historic preservation.
QUESTION: How is Byron Better Hometown organized?
ANSWER: Im full time and we have a lot of great volunteers who serve on our committees and work at our events. I just started as manager on April 27. The former manager went to manage the Gainesville (Ga.) Main Street program.
QUESTION: So youre new. Whats your background and what appealed to you about Byron Better Hometown?
ANSWER: The main reason really is because I want to help promote Byron and downtown. My husband and I are from here and now that we have a son were even more interested in seeing that Byron isnt just the great place it is for him to grow up now but that it stays a great and a growing place for him to live in the future, too.
QUESTION: What did you do before?
ANSWER: I was operations manager for a Macon company.
QUESTION: Whats the best thing about your new job?
ANSWER: Working in the community and meeting so many people that are involved helping Byron and who have been here forever. Thats the best thing, getting to know people and getting to know Byron even better than I already do.
QUESTION: Does the Better Hometown program get results?
ANSWER: We always have a really good turnout at events and that goes a long way on helping people know they can stay in Byron to do their shopping and enjoy themselves. Its especially good to see families come out and spend time together. In this economy, the more things we can do to help families get out and have fun together the better. Thats part of building a good community, too.
QUESTION: Future plans?
ANSWER: Well be continuing and expanding our programs and Im looking into more and more grants we can benefit from. Id love to see a sign welcoming people specifically to downtown.
QUESTION: How can you be contacted?
ANSWER: Were located at the Byron Welcome Center in the Peach Shops at Byron by Interstate 75. People can call us at 956-2409 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compiled by Michael W. Pannell.