Downtown to recruit more businesses in revitalization process - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Downtown to recruit more businesses in revitalization process

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

It's the next step in revitalizing Downtown Augusta: getting businesses, big and small, to set up shop.

"When there are more destinations downtown, more places to shop, more places to see, more people will come down," said Margaret Woodard, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.

Over the last five years the Downtown Development Authority has increased the number of downtown housing units. In 2012 they completed 75 units with a 99 percent occupancy rate. Now they're launching a retail recruitment initiative; dishing out up to $60,000 to a retail consulting firm.

But the downtown district's crime rate could discourage business owners from moving to the area.

Stan Brigan spent nearly $1,000 on this security gate, after his shop was broken into several times. But it doesn't happen just after hours.

"We do have a lot of thefts going on during the day," Brigan said. "I had one guy come in steal a knife. He was in and out in 13 seconds.

Brigan also arms his store with security cameras. But despite the break-ins, he and other businesses owners downtown, and in the Laney Walker area, say they think this is good location for businesses.

LaToya Wallace moved Wally's restaurant stand to Laney Walker Boulevard two years ago. She says the city's revitalization plan is the reason she relocated.

"Because of revitalization, it appears that things are quiet and peaceful," Wallace said. "I love my customers, my customers love me so it's great here."

Wallace says the area has potential, which is exactly what the Downtown Development Authority wants prospective businesses to see.

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