About the Downtown Garner Association

Formed in 2005, the Downtown Garner Association (DGA) 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 fourth Wednesday of the month at 4:30 pm at 120 E. 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.

Mary Elizabeth Twiddy

2019 DGA President

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 to make downtown a destination that people not only knew about, but where they wanted to go?”

I want Downtown Garner to be that destination! Downtown is a gathering place, a place for parades and events, a place to bring the whole town together.

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

Interested in getting involved with DGA?

Board of Directors

Jihan Hodges

2019 Co-Chair

My first impression of Downtown Garner was that it was quaint but underdeveloped and underused.  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 DGA Board of Directors so I can be a part of making our vision for Downtown Garner a reality.

Katie Neumann
Demian Dellinger
Jason Waters
Mari Howe

Downtown Development Manager

As the Downtown Development Manager since 2015, I’ve acted as a liaison between the Downtown Garner Association and the Town of Garner.  I’m responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the non-profit, running the town’s Main Street program, and supporting downtown businesses, property owners, and residents.

I’m the point of contact for downtown events including the Pop Up Market, Outdoor Movies at GPAC, and the April Foods Day and Trick or Eat food truck rodeos.  I can assist with business and property inquiries – please contact me at 919-773-4002 or mhowe@garnernc.gov if you’d like to discuss opening a business or developing property in Downtown Garner.  My office is located at 120 E. Main Street in the Gearworks building.

Greg Cols

2019 DGA Secretary

Downtown Garner is a unique, charming, but small business district that contains so much potential. Its physical appearance has changed very little over time – when you enter downtown Garner, old becomes new. Main Street offers each visitor an opportunity to set aside the busyness of today’s world, and experience modern comforts and convenience in a renewed historical setting.

I joined the DGA board because my passion is connecting people. I enjoy design – both the physical and sociological aspects – creating spaces where people across generations are welcomed, can interact, and are made to feel at home.

I would like to see Downtown Garner own its future, and attract the best entertainment, dining, commercial, and residential options.

Main Street Committees

Garner is a nationally accredited Main Street community and the Downtown Garner Association has been leading downtown economic revitalization since 2009 with the help of the Main Street Four Point Approach.  The Main Street Approach™ offers community-based revitalization initiatives with a practical, adaptable framework for downtown transformation that is easily tailored to local conditions.  The Main Street Approach is implemented through comprehensive work in four broad areas, known as the Four Points – ORGANIZATION, PROMOTION, DESIGN, & ECONOMIC VITALITY. 

The Downtown Garner Association has four standing volunteer work committees that are responsible for implementing DGA’s annual work plan.  Each committee focuses on one of the Four Points, and together, DGA’s committees form a comprehensive, practical, and effective organization for leading downtown economic revitalization.

Community Engagement

The Community Engagement committee  builds on the DGA’s role as the downtown advocacy ORGANIZATION to create a strong foundation for a sustainable revitalization effort, including cultivating partnerships, community involvement, and resources for the district.


The Event Planning committee  uses the principles of PROMOTION to position Garner’s downtown district as the center of the community and hub of economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases the community’s unique characteristics. 

Design &
Public Art

The DESIGN & Public Art committee supports Downtown Garner’s transformation by enhancing the physical and visual assets that set the commercial district apart. 

Downtown Development

The Downtown Development committee is modeled on ECONOMIC VITALITY, which focuses on economic and financial tools to assist new and existing businesses, catalyze property development, and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and innovators that drive the local economy.

Want to learn more about DGA’s work committees?  We’re always looking for volunteers who can bring essential skills, experience, and wisdom to the table.