About Downtown Garner

Jason Waters and Patrick Byrd

The Downtown Garner Association


Formed in 2005, the Downtown Garner Association (formerly called the Garner Revitalization Association) fosters downtown revitalization through the administration of Garner’s Main Street program in a public-private partnership with the Town of Garner.  The organization received 501(c)3 status in 2007.  This 5-9 member Board of Directors works with the town’s Downtown Development Manager to set strategic priorities for downtown economic development within a context of historic preservation.  DGA’s Board of Directors meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 4:00 pm on Main Street in Downtown Garner.

DGA develops a Plan of Work each fall during the board’s annual retreat to set priorities for the coming year.  In addition, the Historic Downtown Garner Plan (2009) and the North Garner Plan (2003), developed with input from the community and adopted by the Town of Garner, continue to provide a long-term vision for this area.

2017 GRA Board of Directors

Jason Waters, Chair

Public Utilities Quality Assurance Manger for the City of Raleigh

When I was a child, Downtown Garner was a cornerstone of the community, and I want to see that again.  I have fond memories of playing baseball at GBI, and coming downtown for Fireman’s Day & the annual Christmas parade.

I joined the Garner Revitalization Association’s Board of Director because I believe Downtown Garner can become a thriving hub of local flavor and a destination for young people and families based around transportation and recreational needs.

Mary Elizabeth Twiddy, Vice-Chair

Financial Advisor for Edward Jones
Email Mary Elizabeth

My family moved to Garner because we wanted to live in a community that felt like a small town, but wasn’t too far away from anything.  At the first Downtown Garner Food Truck Rodeo,  I thought, “this is cute, but it’s so small and there’s so little foot traffic.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could make downtown a destination that people not only knew about, but where they wanted to go?”

A great downtown has restaurants and shops and personality that you just can’t get in any old shopping center. Downtown is a gathering place, a place for parades and events, a place to bring the whole town together and make us feel unified.

I want Downtown Garner to be a destination that everyone knows about! I want people from Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Clayton, Raleigh, and everywhere in between to meet their friends and neighbors, because it’s a great place to be.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve my community as a member of the GRA Board. I’m anxious to see all that we will accomplish in the next decade or so!

Patrick Byrd

Owner & Roaster at Full Bloom Coffee LLC

Downtowns have so much character and history. I love the ability to walk, explore and come across unique locally owned businesses. There is this sense of community you get when being in a downtown area.

As a local business owner in downtown, I bring an inside perspective of what our downtown may or may not need to the GRA Board. I also use my sales and marketing background to help articulate & promote our organization’s vision.

In the next 5-10 years, I’d like to see a brewery, bakery, retail and restaurant(s) move into downtown – locally owned, community driven businesses with a unique hip/cool factor that attracts young and old into downtown.


Jihan Hodges

Speech Language Pathologist for Capitol City Speech Therapy
Email Jihan

My first impression of Downtown Garner was that it was quaint but underdeveloped and underused.  I would love to see Downtown Garner become a pedestrian and bike friendly community where locals and visitors could spend the afternoon, go out for the evening, or attend a weekend street festival.

I grew up in a small rural town in Eastern NC.  One of my favorite childhood memories was heading downtown for the yearly Herring Festival. I remember spending the day with my family and friends running around, playing carnival games, eating cotton candy and of course fried fish, and sitting up on the hill overlooking the water while listening to the bands play.

I would love to see Downtown Garner become a gathering place for the community and the heart of Garner. Somewhere people could grab a bite to eat with family and friends, before heading over to the local watering hole.  A place to watch an outdoor movie, a play, or visit an art exhibit. A place people could meet up for coffee, go shopping at a local artisans market, or pick up fresh produce from the farmer’s market.

I joined the GRA Board of Directors so I can be a part of making our vision for Downtown Garner a reality.

Brent Miller

Assistant Principal at Southeast Raleigh High School

My first impression of Downtown Garner was that it’s filled with potential, but lacking the draw needed to become a destination for residents and visitors.  Downtown Garner has a rich history, but is also flush with opportunity for growth.

While my experience in education may not seem aligned with the efforts of the GRA, I frequently interact with stakeholders to improve the perceptions and realities of the schools I have been privileged to work within; similarly, it is my hope that I can serve as a catalyst for growth in downtown and help residents and visitors alike see Downtown Garner as a family-friendly location that serves a centerpiece for the community.

Ralph Strickland

Administrative Officer II at NC Department of Transportation
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Coming from rural South Carolina, when I first saw Downtown Garner, I thought, “Here’s a charming spot with a lot of potential.” I was so enamored with it, we bought our present home within view of the signature water tower.

I hope to see Downtown Garner become a pedestrian-friendly venue within an easy walk (or bike ride) to entertainment, recreation and the arts. A downtown in the process of being revitalized has: room for growth, a master plan which emphasizes interconnectivity – linking people to the places they’d like to go/explore, as well as a plethora of green spaces.

I believe that by following the current vision – being rooted in the past, and growing into the future – we will see a clearly defined area of Garner emerge, framed with gateways and smart mixed-use development, creating not merely a destination for events and shopping, but also a residential hub that attracts residents from all walks of life who want to enjoy a greater sense of community.

Adna Rubio

Real Estate Manager at Foundry Commercial
Email Adna

I have over 12 years experience in commercial real estate development and management. Through the use of my experience, industry contacts, and resources, I am hoping to create a momentum of real estate and economic development for Downtown Garner.

Downtown Garner is special in that it is small yet chock-full of personality. It is home to a diverse group of citizens and history. I have a vision of capturing the history and diversity and offering it up as a destination for all of Garner citizens to enjoy for generations to come in form of family meals at local restaurants, art and culture events at GPAC, outdoor recreation at the dog park or new recreation center, and much more.

Main Street Program

2017 Main Street AccreditationThe Main Street Program promotes downtown-based economic development within the context of historic preservation.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation developed this concept in 1980 and has spent the last 35 years bringing Main Streets across America back from the brink of ruin.  Today, more than 1,200 towns and cities utilize Main Street America’s Four Point Approach to support downtown revitalization in their communities.

North Carolina Main Street Center

Following a competitive application process, Garner was accepted into the North Carolina Main Street Program in 2009. Since then, the NC Main Street Center staff has worked with the Garner Revitalization Association and the Town of Garner to assess community needs, identify local assets, develop an economic vision for downtown and create a strategic action plan to implement the Main Street Four Point Approach.®

The Garner Main Street Program received accreditation from the North Carolina and the National Main Street Centers in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Town of Garner

Garner A Great Place to BeGuided by the Historic Downtown Garner Plan, the Town of Garner strategically invested over $3.9M and leveraged $4.7M in private investment since 2009 to foster downtown revitalization and support Garner’s Main Street program. In 2013, the town committed $8M, paid for in part by bond funding, to construct a 40,000 square foot Recreation Center as a new civic anchor on the corner of Main Street and Montague Street.

All America City

AllAmericaCityThe National Civic League named Garner one of 10 All-America Cities for 2013. The award recognizes citizen initiatives and engagement, cross-sector collaboration, innovation and inclusiveness. It showcases grassroots solutions for meeting pressing community challenges and needs. This prestigious honor has been dubbed the “Nobel Prize” for civic accomplishment.