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Tour will explore 'Heart and Soul' of 10 cities, including Thomson

Dozens of government and economic leaders are expected in Thomson on Friday.

"We're thrilled that they're coming," Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Council Executive Director Elizabeth Vance said last Friday.

The Georgia Municipal Association and the Georgia Cities Foundation are exploring the "Heart & Soul" of 10 Georgia cities along Interstate 20 east and U.S. Highway 78. The three-day bus tour ends Friday.

The tour shows state agency heads, business leaders, downtown developers and philanthropists ways in which cities are revitalizing and capitalizing on their downtowns.

About 50 people are expected to take part, with some joining the tour at stops along the way.

Participants also will learn about downtown programs in Augusta, Athens, Washington, Conyers, Covington, Monroe, Watkinsville, Greensboro and Madison.

Vance told The McDuffie Mirror that each visitor would receive a gift basket of items, including cheese straws from Chinaberry Foods and a ticket to the Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival.

"The foundation's goal is to help cities through successful public-private partnerships," said Georgia Cities Foundation President Mike Starr, "and we will show 10 very good examples of cities that have been successful in creating wonderful downtowns and vibrant communities through such partnerships."

The bus is scheduled to arrive in downtown Thomson about 9 a.m. Friday. Participants will tour the new Thomson-McDuffie Government Center and hear about plans for downtown development.

In Augusta, government and business leaders will greet tour participants at Riverwalk Augusta this afternoon. After an overnight stay at the downtown Marriott Augusta Hotel & Suites, participants will depart Augusta at 8 a.m. Friday for Thomson.

The tour will depart Thomson at about 10:10 a.m. for Madison. The foundation has held a bus tour every year since 2001 as part of an overall effort to educate and inform state leaders on the importance of successful downtown development and its role in supporting overall economic development for regions and communities.

In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation honored the Georgia Cities Foundation with its Main Street Ally award.

The McDuffie Mirror contributed to this report.

Web posted on Thursday, April 14, 2011

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