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Downtown tour offered to state leaders
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Ron Goss Jr. loves historic courthouses, so it's no surprise he felt right at home in Covington.

"I love the fact it has the square and courthouse in place, it's a very picturesque community," said Goss, with Pennant Construction in Cartersville, Ga.

He was one of 50 state leaders who toured around Covington Wednesday, as the Heart and Soul Bus Tour rolled through Newton County. Local and state government officials, builders, developers, utility company officials, lawyers, journalists, academics and financiers
were part of the contingent.

The annual tour is sponsored by the Georgia Cities Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to revitalizing and enhancing Georgia's downtowns by providing low-interest, long-term loans.

The group was in Covington for about 2.5 hours, hearing from government leaders, eating lunch and taking walking tours of the Lula Building on the square, the Historic Courthouse and filming locations around downtown.

"It was very nice when we were walking around taking the tour of the downtown businesses and the buildings, just that nice, shaded walk around town, slow-paced and relaxed," Goss said. "It's a very inviting community."

As a developer, Goss said Covington is on the right path, including its historic preservation efforts, its loft living around the square and its active restaurants.
"They've really got the core ingredients of what most people look for in their little, historic downtown," he said.

Covington was one of 10 cities featured on the 2011 tour, because it has a successful downtown and received a Georgia Cities loan for the construction of the Lula Building at the corner of Church Street and College Avenue on the square.

Covington officials have worked to maintain the historic, original feel of the downtown, which has made it a popular choice for TV and film location scouts searching for small town America.

This year's bus tour began in Conyers and ends in Madison, following downtowns located along Interstate 20 heading east from Atlanta. Mike Starr, president of the Georgia Cities Foundation, said Covington and the other cities were selected because they have used downtowns to promote economic prosperity.