DALTON, Ga. — After just eight months on the job, Downtown Dalton Development Authority Executive Director Catherine Edgemon will be leaving at the end of the month, according to DDDA board members.
The board members on Wednesday named former Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce president George Woodward interim director. Woodward previously served as interim director from April 2017 to December 2018.
"I can't say exactly how she came to her decision, but once she did, the board accepted it and took steps to move forward," said DDDA board Chairman Caleb Carnes.
Edgemon did not immediately return telephone or email messages Thursday afternoon.
"I think she saw the job as it was developing wasn't exactly what she wanted," said board member John Davis.
Woodward said he and the board members have set no timetable for how long he will serve.
"But I would imagine I will be serving at least through the end of the year," Woodward said. "The board has just hired a new program director who was to work under Catherine, so my primary duties will be to move the master plan forward and to work with Audrey Batts, the new program director, to get her acclimated to that position."
The 204-page master plan aims to revitalize downtown Dalton. It was put together by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute for Government with input from the DDDA, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation, Believe Greater Dalton and many local citizens, groups and officials.
As DDDA interim director, Woodward worked closely with the Vinson Institute while the plan was being developed and remained as a consultant and plan liaison even after Edgemon started as DDDA executive director.
"For us, having George back at the helm, it is very reassuring. We don't have to rush (to find a new executive director)," said DDDA board member T.J. Kaikobad. "We can take our time and find somebody who aligns with what we are looking to do."
Edgemon came to Dalton from Perry, where she had served as main street director. Under Edgemon’s watch, Perry was designated a rural development zone by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, making those who invest, create jobs or redevelop buildings there eligible for tax credits and other incentives. The rural development zone largely overlaps Perry’s downtown.
Edgemon was being paid $70,000 a year as DDDA executive director.
The DDDA has a 2019 budget of $285,000 funded primarily by a downtown property tax. The DDDA helps downtown businesses qualify for various state and federal business incentives, operates a program that compensates businesses and property owners for part of the costs of improving the facades of their buildings, and helps businesses with any of the forms or paperwork needed to open a business downtown.
The DDDA was created by the state legislature in 1981. It is governed by a six-person board whose members are elected by downtown business and property owners.