With 20 new businesses opened in the previous year, 15 net-new businesses added downtown and 80 jobs created, netting 60 new positions, the DDA celebrated a successful year by awarding grants and recognizing those making enhancements.
In addition to awarding local business leaders, DDA Executive Director Liz Hood presented Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown with the Good Government Award for his support of local businesses and quality of life.
"Each year we give a Good Government Award, and as we were thinking about who should be the recipient this year, there was one name and one name only that came to our mind," Hood said. "When you think about someone who is a public servant, we think about Clarence because Clarence has donated the past several decades to Bartow County. He and his family have put in many, many hours to make sure that we have the kind of lifestyle and the kind of future that we would like to have and that we would like to see for our children and our grandchildren."
Hood emphasized Brown's accomplishments in the areas of infrastructure, green space, historical preservation and economic development. Humbly accepting the honor, Brown reflected on the transformation seen in Cartersville's downtown during his time in office.
"To receive this award, it's just outstanding. The Downtown Development Authority, Liz Hood and all the people that work to make downtown what it is, they're the ones that should really be getting the award," Brown said. "They have done tremendous work down here reviving downtown. It is one of the most beautiful downtowns in the country."
Businesses recognized for their investments during 2011 included three recipients of the DDA's Golden Nail Award for projects totaling more than $20,000. Accepting those awards were: John and Joanne Cook, of Antonino's Italian Grotto; Kasey Carpenter, of The Sweet Spot; and Jeff Chisholm, of Wall Street Café.
At the close of Thursday's ceremony, John Cook addressed those in attendance expressing his gratitude toward the community and his appreciation for the city. The Cooks were forced to relocate in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. Coming to the Atlanta area due to business connections, John Cook quickly fell in love with Cartersville after happening upon the town while researching metro Atlanta communities.
"As soon as we came into the square, we knew this would be our home. What you have done here to capture the essence of such a beautiful town is just beyond words," said John Cook, describing how they soon settled in Cartersville and have since frequented downtown establishments. "We never thought we'd be a part of the downtown community, but when we had the opportunity to purchase Antonino's, it was dream come true.
"I could live 1,000 lifetimes and never thank you enough for allowing us to be a part of this community."
Receiving Enhancement Awards Thursday for renovation and improvement projects less than $20,000 were eight downtown businesses: Advanced Insurance Strategies, Fusion Dance, Evolution, Findley's Butcher Shop, Pinky Toes Nail Salon, Robert Hart State Farm, Trends by Stiles and Write! Downtown.
Nine Cartersville businesses received or were recognized for having received sign and facade grants: Agan's Bakery, Gilreath Building, Jenkins and Bowen Law Firm, Locks Salon, McCoy Law Firm, New York Life, Pinky Toes Nail Salon and Wall Street Café.