Harold Harper, 2016

Harold Harper
The Georgia Cities Foundation has selected Harold Harper, a business owner, developer and investor in the city of Tifton as the recipient of its 2016 Renaissance Award. Harper accepted the award during the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Annual Convention in Savannah on Monday, June 27.

The Renaissance Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to the revitalization of one or more of Georgia’s cities. 

Harper was first credited with bringing businesses back to Downtown Tifton in the 1980s with the initial purchase and renovation of the Wilton Hotel in 1982.

In 1984 Harold completed his largest project in a joint purchase with the city of Tifton of the Myon Hotel. The hotel project was completed in 1986. Today the Myon Hotel houses Tifton City Hall, office complexes, apartments and retail stores. This was just a start to what Harold would do for Tifton and an example of his work with municipal officials. 

“This public-private partnership is a very legendary one in Tifton and its coming would have not been possible without the vision of Mr. Harold Harper,” said Tifton Mayor Julie Smith, who nominated him. “This beautiful building is a rarity and continues to be known as the ‘hotel of the south.’ The Myon Hotel is the grandest building in Tifton. Not only is it known for its beauty, but for its rich history.” 

Harper continued his rehabilitation with the purchase of the old Georgia Power Building in 1983, the old Tifton Bank and Trust Company building located on Commerce Way, the G.C. Murphy and “The Avenue” Apartments. Harold also led the renovation project on the Tift Theatre, which was donated to the city in the early 1990’s. 

“It was his citizen participation and willingness to invest in these projects that continues to spur redevelopment in the downtown area,” said Smith. 

Harold, who also owns and operates a gasoline distributorship, various residential and retail rental properties, a truck stop and country diner, a motel and an RV park, describes himself as a “jack of all trades and a master of none,” with his one sole goal of enhancing and leaving something for Tifton, he said.

Harper is an active member in Tifton’s Downtown Development Authority, Historic Preservation Commission, Tift County Development Authority, Tifton/Tift County Tourism Association and the Tift Theatre. He is a major benefactor of Tifton's annual "Hometown Holidays" celebration.