‘We are a small town but we have big dreams’

Tia Lynn Ivey News

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) presented the board’s annual report to the Madison Mayor and City Council earlier this month, elaborating on the DDA’s vision for protecting, developing, and enhancing the city.

“We are challenged with a very big job and our job is economic development of the City of Madison,” said Ed Latham, chairman of the DDA. “We are here to make sure we are around for another 100, or another 200, or another 300 years. It’s a very challenging job when considering economic development, historic preservation, maintaining our integrity in who we are. We are very cognizant of that in everything we do.”

Latham explained the DDA’s four-point plan to make the DDA’s vision for Madison a reality.

“We are small town but we have big dreams,” said Latham.

The DDA’s four-point plan includes “reinforcing the core” by firmly standing on Madison’s historic legacy and local values, restructuring for opportunity to bring in more jobs, housing, and recreational experiences to downtown living, to enhance tourism in order to attract more visitors, and to bring vitality to the city for both local residents and out-of-town visitors.

“All of these things work together,” said Latham. “Our job is to take property that nobody else will work with and that are encumbered by a lot of restrictions and environmental problems. Our job is to take the property and move it into the private sector—to clear the pathway for private investment in our city.”

Latham noted the city’s need for more affordable housing options.

“We are a town people like to come visit, but to support the people who have businesses downtown, we have to have people who live in this community because tourism is a seasonal activity even for us,” said Latham. “We need more rooftops in town. We need to create a vigorous and vibrant economy.”

Latham cited examples of projects the DDA has worked on to provide various needs throughout the City of Madison, including the establishment of Town Park, The Gilmore House, The Canaan Corner Store, Silver Lakes Senior Community, the West Washington Gateway project, and The Georgia Depot project.

“We have to work real hard that we ensure we find the highest and best use that complements the nature and background of our city and that’s what we work for daily,” said Latham. “We want to facilitate the right development and clear the path for private investment. We want to be the catalyst for economic development for the City of Madison.

The Madison Mayor and City Council were grateful for the DDA’s contributions to the city.

“We thank you for the progress you have made for our city,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman. “We appreciate all you do.”

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