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Valdosta State helps Adel with economic development

Students researched idea to attract new business
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Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 19:33:04-04

ADEL, Ga. (WTXL) — Adel’s leaders are teaming up with college students to bring business back to the downtown area. Census bureau data from 2019 shows nearly a quarter of the 5,500 people living in Adel are living in poverty. Progress seems to keep passing by in Adel, Ga.

“Back in the 70s, it was a flourishing downtown area,” explained Adel Mayor, Buddy Duke.

The once-bustling downtown area has lost a lot of business over the years.

“The mall and shopping centers that went out to the interstate,” Duke explained. “Basically, the little downtown just dried up.”

He and town leaders are looking for fresh ideas to draw some of that business back.

“The city is very committed in doing something here,” Randy Lane said. He is the Adel Community Development Director.

“In 2019 we had a 28% vacancy rate in our downtown area. We have 88 buildings in our downtown area. In 2021, we have a 5% vacancy rate,” Lane added.

Now, they’re taking ideas from the next generation.

“It turned out to be a very interesting learning opportunity,” said Dr. Joseph Robbins. Working through Valdosta State University’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact, Robbins led a group of students researching opportunities for economic growth in Adel.

Adding green space, seating, and revamping alleyways are just some of the ideas his team came up with. They also examined social media strategies to highlight and showcase local businesses and events going on in Adel.

“It is needed,” said Joey Abbott. “With the economy standing the way it is, we need everything we can get.”

Abbott is renovating a 115-year-old storefront in hopes of attracting more visitors to South Hutchinson Avenue.

Everyone involved said the students’ work could help the town.

“Without having a vision and hope and dream, you’ll dry up and die away. We do not want to do that here in Adel. We want to keep pushing and do better,” concluded Duke.

The guide the students came up with is designed to help Adel over the next 10 to 15 years. The team also suggested applying for including the T-Mobile Hometown grant program which could get up to $50,000 for the city. Georgia Power Company Grantsare releasing at least $25,000 to communities that qualify. In addition, the National Park Service helps communities with tax credits for rehabbing historical buildings. Right now, three buildings in Adel could qualify and help the city bring in more money.