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Friday, April 16, 2010 - 11:13am

SW Ga. Cities Host Economic Development Tour

(Listen above to an interview with Michael Starr, president of the Georgia Cities Foundation. He spoke with GPB's Edgar Treiguts)

Nine Georgia cities, mainly in the southwest portion of the state, got the chance to sell developers and lenders on new projects for their downtowns.

The annual bus caravan wrapped-up a three-day tour Friday with stops in Tifton and Cordele.

Other cities visited on the tour: Senoia, Griffin, Americus, Albany, Moultrie, Thomasville, and Valdosta.

Michael Starr is president with event sponsor Georgia Cities Foundation. He says the tour group saw the success story of Americus, which has recovered well economically since the tornado of 2007.

On the flip-side, Starr says Albany has been struggling to bring in private development money.

"They have plans for downtown living and new commercial development there, but they really need to get the private dollars coming into Albany to help the downtown."

Emory Morsberger is a re-developer from the Atlanta-area. He says he and other developers got a great on the ground look at what some cities have done—and hope to do—to get business moving. But Morsberger says with the economy the way it is now, a normal developer cannot go it alone.

"There’s got to be a cooperative team spirit between developers, the city organization and financial institutions. It’s not a one-man show any longer.”

The Georgia Cities Foundation helps to spur economic development projects with public-private partnership loans.