At the annual appreciation dinner for Downtown Monroe sponsors last week, Sadie Krawczyk, economic development coordinator for the City of Monroe, shared some of the successes achieved last year – and the results were quite impressive.
“We had 30 new new jobs last year,” she said. “We lost some – but that is net new jobs – and we had more that $616,000 in public and private investment in downtown.”
Krawczyk listed the 14 new businesses that opened downtown, including the new restaurant Kaity’s Downtown, and seven that had relocated or expanded, including Grace Monroe Church and Milo’s Bistro. Some included renovations of old historic buildings, like Monroe County Day School that opened for its inaugural school year in the late summer of 2016. She also shared that Monroe Downtown and partners had hosted more that 50 downtown events that brought in an attendance of 41,500 with 70 event sponsors and 827 volunteer hours. Monroe Downtown was involved in five public improvement projects, including the planters on Broad Street, the Fire Hydrant project in Childers Park to help raise funds for drinking water for pets and their owners in the park, and the beautification of alleyways behind the Broad Street businesses.
Monroe Downtown is fast becoming known outside the county for its success, receiving three awards at the Georgia Downtown Association last year, including GDA Award of Excellence and Volunteers of the Year by Steve and Susan Brown. Krawczyk shared some exciting events planned for downtown this year, including a farm to table dinner on Court Street in the spring and a Smithsonian Exhibit at the Monroe Museum in the fall.
A special award was presented to Virgil Williams, Jr. on his retirement for his nine years of service to the Monroe Downtown Development Authority.
The evening concluded with a presentation of the three traditional annual awards. These were:
Volunteer of the Year, which recognizes “outstanding volunteers whose unselfish and dedicated service has made a significant difference in the quality of our downtown experience. The 2016 award went to Kenny Smiley for the countless volunteer hours he puts in for such events as the annual Christmas Parade.
The Gold Hammer Award, which celebrates “thoughtful and creative renovations to downtown buildings that enhance the historic character and aesthetic appeal of the district.” The 2016 award went to Heather Music for The Story Shop.
The Business of the Year award, which recognizes “a downtown business that stands out for their exceptional business practices, community involvement and representation of Monroe” went to Rinse Bath and Body. Rinse represents the City of Monroe in all 50 states, including Disney World in Florida and Disney Land in California. It also purchased property and expanded its plant, “bringing manufacturing back to downtown Monroe,” Krawczyk said.