Augusta Mayor Davis: New cyber training center "just the tip of the spear" for more downtown business

Published: Jan. 11, 2017 at 11:44 PM EST
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News 12 NBC 26 News At 11 | Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's a major announcement that's sending shockwaves from Atlanta to Augusta and is being called a gamechanger by city leaders. The state of georgia is spending 50 million dollars to build a cyber training facility in Downtown Augusta along the Savannah River.

It's the kind of announcement Mayor Hardie Davis says will make Augusta the point of the spear when it comes to cyber training, jobs and warfare. All of it will happen on the land once set aside for the Augusta Golf and Gardens along Reynolds Street. While it's an empty lot now, the potential for big business is creating excitement for businesses nearby.

It's a busy night for Farmhaus Manager Darby Carpenter. But the announcement of a new Cyber Training Center, just a block away from his Downtown bar and restaurant, brings even more excitement.

"We have a front row seat to watch it start from nothing and build into what it's going to be," Carpenter says. "We have cyber command, we have a new hotels coming. Anything that increases for traffic in downtown Augusta is good for every business in downtown Augusta."

He says the new cyber center and more coming Downtown could bring a boom owners haven't seen in decades. He remembers seeing several businesses leaving for malls on the outskirt of town during the 1970's, but says more stores have been filling in the gaps over the years.

"Ever since the '80s when the Riverwalk got built and everybody wanted to do something with downtown Augusta, it kept taking baby steps. We would take one step forward and two steps back and now it seems like everybody is actually willing to make a commitment to see Downtown Augusta succeed."

It's the kind of success Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis says moves the city beyond potential and towards results.

"It gives the University an opportunity to grow," Mayor Davis says, "it gives our city and opportunity to grow as well as this investment is being made and the number of jobs that will be spawned off of that, again, is just tremendous."

He says the 50 million dollar investment also takes care of one of the city's prime locations, checking one of the biggest boxes city leaders had been looking at for years. He says this annoucement will help bring new business to other parts of Downtown all the way to Gordon Highway, including adding more focus to the old Railroad Depot close to the Riverwalk.

"It's really us having an opportunity to develop the two bookends on Reynolds Street," Mayor Davis says. "What we've always known is that between Eighth and Tenth Street, right there off of Reynolds all the way back to Ellis, that was where the stem of the mushroom, if you will, is. Now we can key in on that section. It's truly a pinnacle and our cities history of where we have an opportunity to truly began changing the city skyline, something that has not been done over the last two decades."

It's a change Carpenter and other business owners have been hoping for and now will get to see come to life.

"Finally, it looks like we are going to start reaping some benefits of downtown Augusta," Carpenter says. "And, you know, a lot of people need a lot of food and we would love to provide that for them."

Mayor Davis says the Downtown Development Authority says they are close to making an announcement about what new business could be coming to the Railroad Depot. All this, he says, as millions of dollars are being invested in the city thanks to several new hotels and more restaurants.