From saving a historic train depot to modernizing an airport, Georgia’s “Hospitality City” is developing new ideas to improve its economy.
“Downtown has so much potential,” says Karen Holder. “I just wanted to be a part of it.” Holder owns what will become First and Broad Pizza Company in the city’s historic train depot. “Were excited. We’ve survived the pandemic we’re in. We’re super grateful to the community for continuing to support us.”
The police station used to be housed in the decades-old depot. When the project is done, it will serve pizza, hold an arcade, and cornhole tournaments.
“Over the past year we have opened several new businesses downtown,” explains Alyssa Blakley. She is the Marking Director for the Main Street and Downtown Development Authority. She said a new children’s boutique, restaurants and dance studio have recently opened.
“Our rents are extremely low compared to other cities.” Blakely said commercial rent in downtown Cairo averages 40 cents per square foot. She said that’s less than the space along a major four-lane highway that might cost as much as $11 per square foot.
“It really is a special place,” added city manager Julian Brown. “A lot of people think I’m crazy, but this was actually one of my dreams growing up.” He said he is excited to lead the community where he was born and raised. “I’d love to see more events,” Brown added. “I want Broad Street to be used. We’ve done well on a monthly basis by doing it. I would like to see more on a weekly basis.”
He also said they are investing in Cairo airport. They are working on an upgrade of the terminal. The goal is to maintain the city’s hospitality theme and be more welcoming to executives flying to the area on trips to the nearby business park. The area is already attracting people from outside the city.