An original supporter of the Georgia Downtown Association Development Professional Certification program, Josephine Kelly, Executive Director of Main Street Porterdale, recently earned master level certification.
“Over 15 years ago, our goal was to create certification that measured all of the skills you need,” she said. “I don’t think people really appreciate what the qualities it takes to be a downtown developer.”
Kelly said the Georgia Downtown Development Association developed the certification with the Andrew Young School for Policy Studies at Georgia State University. The program officially started in 2007.
“This whole field was evolving very rapidly,” she said. “There wasn’t a specific type of certification or qualification people needed. People who work in the field of downtown development come from a diverse constituency.”
“We are the only state and downtown development association that has developed this certification and other states are currently working with the Georgia Downtown Development Association to develop this type of certification,” Kelly said.
“It’s been a very successful program and each year, we have candidate for certification and it’s supported by the Office of Downtown Development at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.,” she said.
The recognition means Kelly has demonstrated mastery in the practice of downtown development in Georgia and has made significant contributions to the field. To qualify for the designation, she had to work in the field a minimum of 10 years.
Downtown development professionals need to be able to make presentations about development opportunities, understand planning and design, have a fair knowledge of city ordinances, understand event staging and marketing and know organizational and project management.
“You have to have all those skill sets,” she said.
The Georgia Downtown Development certifications offer professionals a system of progressive, structured improvement in professional practices. Those who complete one of three certificates are recognized by district association. The three levels are profession, requiring two to three years of professional experience; senior, requiring five years; and master, requiring 10 years.
Kelly said she has been supported by the mayor, council and city manager of Porterdale in her efforts to earn certification. “Despite being a small community with no large projects, Porterdale has made a big commitment to having strong downtown, economic and community development,” she said. “They [council and staff] understand this type of program can help position Porterdale for the future.”
Kelly became Main Street Director just over a year ago and said the community has a clear understanding of how to put in to place strategies that support local businesses and brings in visitors. The Porterdale Leadership Team collaboratively helps plan growing Porterdale’s creative economy using its natural and recreational resources, Kelly said.