Heart & Soul Downtown Workshops:  2017 and Beyond

Beginning in 2017, the Heart & Soul mobile workshop format will be replaced with two stand-alone downtown workshops for city officials.  Through the repurposed format, the Georgia Cities Foundation and Georgia Municipal Association desire to provide a greater impact through increased municipal official participation and more instructional time in each community.  
The first 2017 Heart & Soul Downtown Workshop was conducted on May 24, 2017 in downtown Madison, Georgia, with a second workshop being conducted in Augusta on November 2, 2017.  These six-hour workshops target municipal officials and key city staff that are interested in downtown revitalization. Workshop participants are provided opportunities to view actual plans and projects with officials from the host city discussing their downtown and neighborhood strategies, their success stories, and their lessons learned. The workshop includes formal presentations and tours of downtown areas.
2018 Heart & Soul Downtown Workshops were conducted in Dublin on May 16 and in Newnan on October 3.

Two workshops are planned in 2019. The the first was in Monroe on May 23rd.  A second workshop will be held during the fall (location TBD). Please visit GMA's website at www.gmanet.com for registration information.

Heart & Soul Mobile Workshop: 2014-2016

In 2014, GCF repurposed the Heart & Soul Bus Tour into a mobile workshop training opportunity for city officials who were interested in downtown development.  The mobile workshop was similar in scope to the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Tour that GCF conducted between 2003 and 2008, as it sought to connect representatives from cities who were interested in downtown revitalization with community leaders from cities that had experienced success in their revitalization efforts.   The mobile workshop was jointly sponsored by GCF and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA).
The repurposed Heart & Soul mobile workshop visited three cities during a two-day period, with the tour group spending a half-day in each community.  Participants were provided opportunities to view actual downtown plans and projects, with officials from the host cities discussing their downtown strategies, their success stories, and their lessons learned.  Municipal elected officials who participated on the Bus Tour were eligible to obtain training credits through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute.   The mobile workshop was limited to forty municipal officials. Participants included, but were not limited to, mayors, council members, city managers, DDA board members, and downtown managers.  
A key component of the mobile workshop was the addition of a resource team consisting of representatives from several agencies/organizations that are involved with downtown development (Georgia Downtown Association, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, University of Georgia, Georgia Power, Georgia Trust, Southface).  Resource team members discussed their organization’s programs and services while the bus was in transit, and they were available throughout the mobile workshop to provide guidance and insight to participants.
Cities visited during 2014-2016 included: Moultrie, Thomasville, and Valdosta in 2014, Dahlonega, Rome, and Woodstock in 2015, and Duluth, Gainesville, and Greenville, SC in 2016.

Heart & Soul of Georgia Bus Tour: 2001-2013

During 2001-2013, the Georgia Cities Foundation (GCF) annually conducted the “Heart & Soul of Georgia” Bus Tour to highlight the downtown revitalization efforts of selected cities in Georgia.  Tour participants normally included representatives from the following groups:   downtown developers, representatives from the philanthropic community, state agency representatives, media representatives, GCF Board members, and the Tour’s sponsors. 
For thirteen years, the Heart & Soul Tour annually took 35-50 participants on a whirlwind three-to-four day tour of Georgia’s downtown areas.  Officials from the hosting cities were provided an opportunity to showcase several of their community’s downtown projects in a relatively short period of time (normally one to two hours).  Examples of highlighted projects include privately-owned commercial and mixed-use buildings, as well as various publicly-owned buildings and projects (city halls, courthouses, cultural/educational facilities, downtown parks/squares, and streetscape projects).  For a brief moment, the host cities had a captive audience that they could inform, educate, entertain, and feed while bragging on their downtown area and their community.
During 2001-2013, the Heart & Soul Tour made 139 visits to 104 cities.  A list of cities visited is available at the following link.

Bus Tour Cities

  • Acworth
  • Albany
  • Alma
  • Americus
  • Athens
  • Augusta
  • Bainbridge
  • Barnesville
  • Baxley
  • Blue Ridge
  • Bowdon
  • Brunswick
  • Buford
  • Cairo
  • Calhoun
  • Camilla
  • Canton
  • Carrollton
  • Cartersville
  • Cedartown
  • College Park
  • Colquitt
  • Columbus
  • Commerce
  • Conyers
  • Cordele
  • Covington
  • Dahlonega
  • Dallas
  • Dalton
  • Darien
  • Decatur
  • Douglas
  • Douglasville
  • Dublin
  • Duluth
  • East Point
  • Eatonton
  • Elberton
  • Ellijay
  • Fayetteville
  • Fitzgerald
  • Folkston
  • Forsyth
  • Fort Valley
  • Gainesville
  • Greensboro
  • Greenville, SC
  • Griffin
  • Hartwell
  • Hawkinsville
  • Hinesville
  • Jesup
  • Kennesaw
  • Kingsland
  • LaGrange
  • Lavonia
  • Lawrenceville
  • Lyons
  • Macon
  • Madison
  • Marietta
  • McDonough
  • Metter
  • Milledgeville
  • Monroe
  • Montezuma
  • Monticello
  • Moultrie
  • Newnan
  • Norcross
  • Parrott
  • Perry
  • Pine Mountain
  • Plains
  • Quitman
  • Rockmart
  • Rome
  • Roswell
  • Sandersville
  • Savannah
  • Senoia
  • Smyrna
  • Social Circle
  • St. Marys
  • Statesboro
  • Suwanee
  • Swainsboro
  • Sylvania
  • Sylvester
  • Thomasville
  • Thomson
  • Tifton
  • Toccoa
  • Valdosta
  • Vidalia
  • Vienna
  • Washington
  • Watkinsville
  • Waycross
  • Waynesboro
  • West Point
  • Woodbine
  • Woodstock