MACON – Heather Holder, director of Milledgeville’s Digital Bridges project since 2009, has been appointed executive director of the College Hill Alliance, effective Jan. 9, 2013.
Initially established with a $2 million grant to Mercer University from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation three years ago, the College Hill Alliance assists the community in creating positive change to the physical and social fabric of the College Hill Corridor, a two-square mile area between Mercer’s campus and Macon’s downtown business district.
The University on Sept. 21 announced a three-year, $2.3 million grant from Knight Foundation to continue the College Hill Alliance’s successful work in promoting a sense of place for the Corridor while taking its next step in revitalizing the area through creation of an “Innovation Corridor.” Working with Ohio-based Jumpstart, the Alliance plans to identify regional entrepreneurial talent and help develop or accelerate knowledge-based companies that are essential to advancing College Hill as a great place to live, work, play, and now, innovate.
Under Holder’s leadership, Digital Bridges –funded by a $1.5 million Knight Foundation grant to Georgia College and State University – has empowered the citizens of Milledgeville and Baldwin County to be catalysts for change by adapting and expanding the use of technology. The initiative has served local individuals, businesses, government agencies, non-profits and schools by creating a community-owned model focused on increasing community attachment, re-focusing economic development and increasing access to information locally.
In addition to her work with Digital Bridges, Holder has assisted private developers and the City of Milledgeville to leverage $3.9 million to restore a 30,000-square-foot blighted building into “The Baldwin Lofts,” the largest private investment to date in Milledgeville’s downtown commercial district.
“The next phase of the College Hill Alliance focuses on expanding and sustaining the tremendous progress that has been made over the last three years, with an additional emphasis on establishing, nurturing and growing knowledge-based businesses that can create jobs,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “Heather Holder’s background in economic development and experience working with organizations in the region that share that goal make her an ideal candidate to lead the College Hill Alliance.”
Holder’s career in economic and urban development also includes serving as executive vice president at NewTown Macon in 2008 and five years as executive director of Milledgeville Main Street. During her tenure with Main Street, Milledgeville’s downtown business district saw a 39 percent increase in property values and $14 million in investment. Holder led the city effort to establish the first Opportunity Zone and Enterprise Zone for a commercial district in the State of Georgia. She also assisted in launching the annual Deep Roots Festival.
“I am looking forward to working with the College Hill Corridor Commission as they partner with both public and private entities in order to extend the successes of the College Hill initiative throughout Central Georgia,” Holder said.
Holder earned a B.A. in history and a Master’s in Public Administration, both from Georgia College and State University. She holds Senior Georgia Downtown Development Professional Certification from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Fanning Institute, and is a past board member of the Georgia Downtown Association.
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