In Georgia, a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a major decision-making and project driven entity that plans and manages the downtown business district. A DDA is a corporate body recognized by State law, and from an Internal Revenue perspective, the DDA is considered to be governmental tax-exempt. The DDA is eligible to receive certain grant monies, whereas, a local business or merchants association may not qualify. The DDA can utilize a variety of financing tools outlined in the Official Code of Georgia. Money created from the implementation of these tools can be used in several ways to bring about revitalization and economic development of the central business district.
The DDA can work with volunteers from the local business association, citizens, the city, and county to bring about the revitalization of the downtown area, or depending on a set of criteria for qualification, a DDA may choose to initiate a Main Street or other type of program to assist with redevelopment.
Russell, also known as Rusty, has been an active member of the Darien Downtown Development Authority Board since 2020 and was recently voted to serve as Chairman. He attended college at the University of Georgia achieving his undergraduate and law degrees. Rusty went on to practice real estate law in a practice he owned and operated for 42 years before retiring.
Having lived in McIntosh County part-time for 26 years and now full-time, Rusty has a deep desire to help in the orderly growth and development of McIntosh County and the City. In keeping with the social and coastal atmosphere, Rusty developed the Waterfront Condominiums and Waterfront Wine and Gourmet (WWG) on Broad Street in 2006. Since then, the WWG has provided a central gathering place for residents and visitors.
In Rusty’s downtime, he is an adventure motorcycle enthusiast traveling throughout North and Central America. He enjoys reading classic novels and beekeeping. Some of his finest moments are spent with his family and his beautiful grandson.
As a volunteer on the DDDA Board, Rusty feels the authority has the resources, enthusiasm and talent to create a healthy, sustainable and economically viable environment for the current and future businesses of Darien. He is excited to participate in an organization that has so much potential to make a meaningful difference in our City and County.
James has been an active member and Vice Chairman of the Darien Downtown Development Authority Board since 2021. James previously served as Vice Chair for the Board of Education and Vice Chair of the McIntosh County Booster Club. He is a McIntosh County native and a graduate of the McIntosh County Academy.
James not only serves on the Darien DDA but works as the CEO of MRJJ Company, owns the McKenzie Seafood company and is the National Account Manager at MC Dean, Inc. He believes that there is never just one thing that leads to success, but a combination of passion, optimism, hard work and being in the right place at the right time. James prides himself on the re-opening an abandoned local grocery store now known as The Coastal Market, a critical business to help the city of Darien thrive and grow.
In James’ downtime, he enjoys fishing, golfing and spending time with his family. He consistently strives to be a better father, husband and friend.
Having worked as Plant Operator for The Georgia Shrimp Company, James is committed to supporting Darien’s local seafood industry along with other independently owned businesses throughout McIntosh County. He sees this as instrumental in helping grow and maintain Darien’s small-town atmosphere and uniqueness.
Angie is the Branch Manager, Vice President and Lender at the Southeastern Bank in Darien. Angie grew up in Cobbtown, GA and attended high school in Reidsville, GA. A lifelong resident of Tattnall County, she moved to McIntosh County in 2015 and later married her husband, Leslie.
In her 31 years in the banking industry, Angie worked her way up the ranks and has attended multiple banking schools across Georgia. She prides herself on providing the exceptional customer service her clients deserve and enjoys seeing them achieve their goals of a new car or a new home.
Angie not only volunteers as the Treasurer on the Darien Downtown Development Authority Board, but also serves as Secretary on the Keep McIntosh Beautiful Board, as well as the Habitat for Humanity Board.
Angie’s goal as a member of these various Boards is to continue to help grow and improve Darien and McIntosh County, the community she calls home!
Lynn joined the Darien Downtown Development Authority Board in April of 2022. She was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and raised on a small farm in Bedford, Indiana. Lynn made her home here in Darien back in 2020 after retiring from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Lynn began her 27-year career in corrections specializing in case management and emergency preparedness.
Lynn is an avid dog lover and enjoys the company of her two miniature dachshunds. She loves to read, travel and exercise and was blessed with a green thumb. The DDA is grateful for Lynn’s horticultural expertise as she helps keep our downtown area blooming with beautiful flowers.
Lynn is a dedicated football fan rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
As a volunteer DDDA Board member, Lynn is working to help Darien attract more local businesses to the downtown area while keeping the small-town feel.
Carrie has been an active member of the Downtown Darien Development Authority Board since October of 2021. She and her husband Zach own both the Open Gates Bed and Breakfast AND Darien Dockside Inn. Together they strive to continually grow and expand their businesses here in Darien.
Carrie was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and earned her college degree in New York. She and her family now call Darien their home!
Carrie’s goal as a business owner and member of the DDDA is to work together with local businesses and government to support Darien as it expands into a more walkable town where residents and visitors can spend time walking along the incredible coastline, shopping in the quaint galleries and gift-shops and eating some of the best seafood Georgia has to offer.
Marion became a member of the Darien Downtown Development Authority Board in April of 2022. She is an active member of the Darien downtown business community and experienced business woman owning several businesses: The Local Exchange which is a modern-day general store focused on all things local and the Adam Strain building, Circa 1813, which Marion purchased and is currently managing the restoration. Her hope is to restore the history of this magnificent building for residents and visitors to enjoy for years to come. In addition to the Darien businesses, Marion also owns The Local Exchange in Marietta, GA again focusing on local goods.
Marion, originally from Gainesville, FL, spent most of her childhood in Chattanooga, TN. She attended the University of Tennessee and later graduated from Birmingham Southern College. When not working, Marion likes to travel and hopes to spend more time traveling not only throughout the United States but the entire World! She enjoys hiking, yoga, boating, reading, gardening and most of all, spending time with family and friends.
Marion is proud of her accomplishment that restructured the Marietta Visitor’s Bureau through collaboration with the City of Marietta staff and the MVB Board of Directors. Marion has served her communities by volunteering with the City of Marietta, GA Historic Preservation Commission, Cobb Preservation Foundation and now the Darien DDA. Marion’s goal is to continue to be of service to our local communities and organizations.
Kathleen is a returning member the Darien Downtown Development Authority Board having served previously not only as a member but as Chairman. Kathleen was born and raised in Darien leaving long enough to attend and graduate from the University of Georgia and spend a few years teaching school in Atlanta.
In 1953 when Kathleen was just 15 months old, her parents, Maude and Charles Williamson Jr., bought The Darien News. She started her illustrious career at The Darien News when she was barely old enough to hold a broom. She returned in June of 1974 to once again work alongside her parents. As Editor and Publisher of The Darien News, Kathleen is proud of the work she and her family has done over the last 69 years reporting the news, providing the facts, standing for what is right and true, reporting about the events and people, as well as working to help move this community forward.
One of Kathleen’s goals in volunteering for the DDDA is to help preserve Darien’s small-town atmosphere, welcome visitors and support the thriving businesses who have invested their livelihoods in this town. She feels that the history and natural resources surrounding this beautiful city of Darien are abundant and opportunities enormous.
Kathleen finds that the beauty of McIntosh is endless and she finds joy quietly kayaking is rivers and creeks and fishing, even if the fish aren’t biting!
Ron has been an active member of the Darien Downtown Development Authority and Historic Darien Board since 2007. He is a Connecticut native, retired US Navy Lieutenant Commander, an MBA graduate of Michigan State University and Georgia Lions Past Chairman of the Council of Governors. Following his Navy Career, he was employed by General Dynamics, Electric Boat Division as Chief of Contract Finance, and later as Business Manager of the Old Saybrook, CT school district.
Ron has called Darien his home for 17 years. He has volunteered for the DDDA, was general chairman of the annual Darien Fall Fest for 13 years, has volunteered for the Blessing of the Fleet and for the YMCA Board. He is a prominent member of the Darien Lions club and has been a Lion for 36 years. He prides himself on helping the Club become a vibrant and respected contributor to the well-being of Darien and McIntosh County.
Ron enjoys boating on the many tributaries around the Darein area and has a love of fine automobiles. His goal as a member of the DDDA and the Lions Club is to continue to help facilitate the City of Darien and McIntosh County as a wonderful place to live and work.
Meetings: The Darien Downtown Development Authority holds public meetings the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30p.m. at City Hall. To get on the agenda for an upcoming authority meeting, contact the DDDA Director at (912) 437-5604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access previous meeting agendas click on the agenda links above.