Rochelle Downtown Development Authority directors sworn in

Published 3:50 am Friday, November 13, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


On Monday Nov. 9th, the Rochelle Market Place Downtown Development Authority (Rochelle Market Place DDA) held its Investiture Meeting where the inaugural Board of Directors were elected and sworn in by the Mayor of Rochelle Wayne McGuinty. Rev. Travis Johnson delivered the invocation. The DDA was originally established by Resolution in 2005 in accordance with Georgia Law, the DDA had been inactive for several years.  The DDA was reactivated 03/04/2020 by Resolution, the initial Board of Directors for the reactivated DDA with terms of office defined  are as follows: Vickie Kemp, City Council Member-2 years, Brent Peebles, Business owner/county resident-2 years, Gwendolyn Smith, Municipal Taxpayer- 4 years, Rosalind Brown, Business Owner/County resident-4 years, Jeremy King, Business Owner/County Resident- 6 years, Kristy Everson, Business Owner/Out of County Resident-6 years, and Prince Joseph Lopez, Municipal Taxpayer- 6 years.  There after each successor shall be appointed by the Mayor/Council for a term of four years.  The term of any city council member shall end when that member is no longer a member of city council,  Directors shall receive no compensation for their services.  Each director shall attend and complete at least 8 hours of training on downtown development and redevelopment programs within the first 12 months of directors’ appointment, this provision does not apply to any member who is also a city council member.

The Board of Directors are as follows: Director/CEO-Prince Joseph Lopez, Vice Director-Mrs. Kristy Everson, Secretary-Mrs. Gwendolyn Smith, Treasure- Mrs. Rosalind Brown, Members/Business Owners-Jeremy King, and Brent Peebles and City Council Representative- Mrs. Vickie Kemp.  Two Resolutions were passed 2020-101- making the official name as Rochelle Marketplace DDA and Resolution 2020-102 authorizing the Treasure to open a financial account for the DDA.

The Rochelle Marketplace DDA will meet eleven times each year on the first Monday of each month at 6pm.

THE DDA’s MISSION:  The mission is to reduce POVERTY through employment opportunities, to IMPROVE LIVING CONDITIONS through PROJECTS, and to create a sense of place; a destination as: “there’s no better place to be other than in Downtown Rochelle”

VISION:  We envision the Authority to be the catalyst for progress, sustainability, and development; to enhance the quality of life where downtown becomes a clean, beautiful and inviting place to be.  By working with our neighbors in common unity to foster an economic system and area sustainability, self-sufficiency and growth; to help develop a desegregated and livable

Downtown; and to help build and sustain affordable housing for all throughout the Downtown Development and Service areas.

At the center of Wilcox County, GA, Rochelle serves as the hub and center of economic activity to the entire county, and it is one link in the chain uniting Cordele to the west and Eastman/Fitzgerald to the north/southeast.  Historical Rochelle encompass a 1905 built historical downtown and a large Historical District of beautiful gingerbread Victorian housing stock built about 1887’s and thereon.

As typical of the cities in the agricultural counties of Middle Georgia, Rochelle has fallen on hard times at the wimp of socioeconomic factors during the last decades.  With the result that many historical buildings have come down, brick-by-brick, roof-by-roof and are in urgent need of investment and rebuilding.  With the intent to find the way to fix what is broken, four Rochelle residents came together on May 1, 2019 and later were called into an exploratory committee meeting to transition into a DDA on July 2, 2019, and the fire was on!

During the Pandemic (Covid-19) the residents were not idled, and where there was business after business closing down their doors and unemployment rising, the new Rochelle investors and property owners pull their sleeves up and on went to work investing sweat equity by scraping old pain, shoveling and hauling away centuries old debris and broken glass, pulling down rotten ceilings, roofs, and walls. They were busy hiring contractors, workers and building anew replacing windows, doors, remodeling and investing on their newly acquired business properties to get their wares, products, and services to market.

Since May 2019, six (6) new locales have come online and are now open for business (Kiss Beauty Boutique, Vera’s Kitchen, Gibson Entertainment, Vera’s Veranda, J&B Ice, LLC and the new Touch Free Carwash.  In addition, the Rochelle strip mall (1st & Stephens) was completely remodeled, painted and the laundromat within received a facelift with a substantial and complete new appliance investment, the Marathon Gas station cleanup the grounds and was painted over, the Rochelle Drug Pharmacy is now operating under new ownership) and two (2) more businesses will have a Grand Opening soon.  Sooner or later, our economy will take a turn up for the best, and we are ready and positioned to harvest the best of it!