UGA Institute of Government Offers New Certificate Program in Downtown Development

Rhiannon Eades

Monday, November 6th, 2023

The University of Georgia Institute of Government has partnered with the Georgia Downtown Association (GDA) and Georgia Power to launch the Certified Downtown Professional Certificate Program. This new training series helps downtown professionals gain the skills and knowledge to boost community and economic development in downtown districts.

“Downtowns are destinations and business centers. They’re great for small businesses, and they attract a variety of people. A city’s downtown is really important both as the heart and identity of a community and economically,” said Chrissy Marlowe, faculty at the UGA Institute of Government.

The UGA Institute of Government designed the new program based on its experience with Georgia’s downtowns and the people working to make them prosper.

Marlowe said the new program includes 14 classes that cover both basic and advanced topics, including downtown development authority law; preservation and design; event planning; land use; funding and other resources; business development; strategic planning and more.

Attendees who complete all 14 classes and a capstone project will earn the Certified Downtown Professional certificate from the University of Georgia and the Georgia Downtown Association. The classes are also available as standalone offerings.

“By completing this certificate program, participants will have a thorough understanding of the complex role of a downtown professional in any city. They will gain in-depth knowledge about resources and tools for successful downtown events, business support and development projects to create a vibrant downtown for the whole community,” Marlowe said.

Jeffrey Fowler, executive director of Hometown Warrenton and GDA president, said downtown development professionals play a critical role in ensuring their cities and towns have vibrant centers that attract businesses and visitors.

“Downtown development is important to revitalize our town,” Fowler said of Warrenton. “Downtown development offices are connectors.”

Fowler said the new UGA program’s classes are beneficial for anyone whose role includes creating, revitalizing or growing a downtown district.

Classes are offered quarterly in different Georgia cities, giving participants the opportunity to experience a variety of downtown districts across the state. Each two-day session offers the choice of four classes, allowing participants to complete two courses each quarter.

Registration is open for the next quarterly session, which will take place Nov. 13 and 14 in Americus. To learn more about the November courses and to sign up, visit