Women of Cairo expand business downtown

Women of Cairo expand business downtown
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:12 PM EDT
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CAIRO, Ga. (WALB) - The women of Cairo have led the way in the expansion of downtown.

Most of the businesses in downtown Cairo are owned by women.

Women of small town Cairo have changed the ideology of Cairo surfacing as a declining city.

“It’s so awesome to see all the women business owners in downtown Cairo. It’s a shift and there’s a change. We’re creating activities and events that people can come to support,” Andrea Copeland said.

Copeland is celebrating one year of being in business this week.

Copeland is the owner of an inherited outdoor venue that hosts parties and talent shows.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 so I just needed a life change. It’s the mom role, wife role, and the business owner role and you have to find balance with all of that so it’s hard,” Karen Holder said.

Holder owns First and Broad Pizza.

She invested in the old train depot. Holder employed 24 people in a family-friendly billiards/bar/restaurant in the heart of downtown.

“I don’t know exactly what the rules were back then for women having businesses, but now I can say moving forward it’s a great thing. There are a lot of business owners downtown. I think we’re more transparent to what the needs are for downtown and Grady County,” Alicia Byrden-Gurley said.

Byrden-Gurley owns His and Hers Boutique.

She opened her doors in November and is already noticing increased foot traffic as more businesses continue to open. Right now, there are three business spaces available, but even those are selling quickly.

Downtown Marketing Director Ansley Lacy has been hard at work since she took the job last year. There will be a new Mexican restaurant in a few months where the old bank downtown was also sold.

Lacy was unable to share, but an announcement will come soon.

“Everyone’s working really hard to get the business started up. We had a great recent downtown development that really attracted a lot of investors to our downtown area,” Lacy said.

Ansley Lacy is one of the masterminds behind Cairo’s growth.

Lacy applied for a grant of $1 million to renovate what they call the “Bass Building.”

“We are focused on getting this purchased and bringing it back to life. Hopefully, we can have it as an incubator space,” Lacy said.

With all the buzz downtown, according to Lacy, they need extra parking.

30 new parking spaces have been added for the city with more planned in the near future which will help them with summer concerts every first Saturday and other festival plans.

More expansion is planned beyond Broad Street between 1st Street and 3rd Street.

“The goal is to expand downtown to where development authority has our territory... We have a large area with nothing but opportunity,” Lacy said.

A look at Cairo's downtown rural development zone. Businesses in these areas get a tax credit.
A look at Cairo's downtown rural development zone. Businesses in these areas get a tax credit.(WALB)

This is the expanded area that has opportunities for the rural tax credit whereas soon the opportunities for downtown apartments will turn into Airbnb rentals.

“We want them to see our downtown and see what we’re capable of and enjoy our downtown but we want them to,” Lacy said.

Other women-owned businesses in Cairo are Punky’s, Everhope Collective and Cairo Nutrition.