Downtown businesses bracing for more people


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As Augusta leaders prepare for several new developments to be built in town, businesses downtown also stand a chance to see some gain.

The past year has brought announcements about new businesses and jobs, but of course with all those new jobs there must be more people in town to work them.

“The level of growth that’s going to take place in downtown Augusta over the next two years is breathtaking,” said Kevin Grogan, Director of Morris Museum of Art.

There are just a few people walking around downtown on any given day, but growth could certainly bring more foot traffic. And if you think it’s hard to park now, just wait.

“It not only becomes a cyber destination, but it becomes a community where individuals who are part of the technology and innovation space will choose Augusta.  That is the type of community we’re raising and development,” said Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis.

Mayor Davis and other CSRA leaders heard positive news about the region’s economic forecast for 2017 Thursday during UGA’s Terry College of Business’ Economic Outlook presentation done by Benjamin Ayers.  A day before that came a $50 million cyber security center, The “Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center” on the old Golf and Gardens property.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we are home of the Masters, the home of the Godfather of soul, but we now are going to be the cyber technology capital of the south,” Mayor Davis explained.

With Augusta dominating in cyber nationwide, downtown businesses are bracing for those people relocating to patronize.

“I think all of Augusta’s cultural institutions can anticipate an increase in attendance and participation and that’s what we’re all striving for,” Grogan added.

The Morris Museum of Art is situated next door to the new cyber facility and the future Augusta University Riverfront Campus.  He said more people in the area might mean more participants at the museum.

“We see a lot of students.  Annually, we see a lot of students on tour throughout the museum.  We reach as many people away from the museum as we see here.  Not just the Morris Museum, but also the Lucy Craft Laney Museum on Philips St. near Laney Walker Blvd., the Augusta Museum of history down 6th street.  We thrive on public participation and the citizens of Augusta are made to be better people by their participation in what we have to offer,” he said.

I spoke with one downtown restaurant employee and they too are hoping the additional foot traffic leads to more people supporting their business.

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