There are so many people who contribute so much to the citizens of this county and the communities therein and we’ve featured many of them in Walton Living Magazine. In this latest issue, we featured a cross-section section of Walton’s Women of Influence who may not always be seen out there in the limelight, but whose contributions are invaluable to the lives of Walton County’s citizens. We have expanded on this a little to feature them individually on Your Local News, beginning with Sadie Krawczyk and Leigh Ann Walker, often seen collectively as being responsible for much of what makes Monroe such a happening place.
To read about all of the women featured, pick up a copy of the latest issue of Walton Living Magazine at one of the Walton County city halls, libraries or the Chamber of Commerce or click or tap on this link to read the digital version.
In the City of Monroe, Economic Development Director Sadie Krawczyk may be one of those who is a little better known. As active and trendy as the city has become, she is sometimes more visible than others, but she can just as often be found in the trenches doing what she can to help drive Monroe’s economy in the right direction. Her job is to organize and drive efforts that support economic growth, the creation and retention of jobs and the improvement of quality of life. She oversees the Downtown Development Authority, the Monroe Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Monroe Visitors Center, and Economic Development for the city.
And her efforts are very much appreciated by those who work with her and who get to bask in the benefits.
“Sadie has the tenacity to make things work no matter how difficult a project may be. She will dig into the details and learn everything needed to make something work. Behind that is a passion for Monroe that burns brighter than just about anyone in town. She truly has a desire to see Monroe succeed for all walks of life,” said Monroe City Administrator Logan Propes, citing the recent opening of LR Burger as one of the benefits of her passion for the city. “She initially brought the concept of taking over the old gas station/auto lot to the DDA for turning into a restaurant by someone, sometime, somehow. To say that there were challenges with the property is an understatement. She was absolutely determined to make the project work.”
Propes said he was far more cautious, but went along with championing her efforts anyway,
“Her ability to line up the right people for the project’s many phases was impressive. Her enthusiasm for the project was infectious and made us all determined to make it succeed. And two years later we enjoy some amazing burgers in a cool new atmosphere in Downtown Monroe.”
Monroe Mayor John Howard echoes these sentiments, noting that Krawczyk has been the main driver behind the downtown revitalization.
“Sadie is brilliant, and she stays focused on the overall betterment of Monroe. Her ability to put her plans into action and follow through on new, innovative ways to build the community make her the perfect fit for Monroe,” he said. “We have based our improvements in Monroe from the center – out, so we try to start downtown and move outward. As we all know, our downtown businesses are booming, we have installed a pocket park, a hammock park, new murals, Activity Alley, and we have just unveiled a new master-plan for the city parks.
Krawczyk says when she can help the people of Monroe be successful, everyone benefits.
“My hope is that this place continues to flourish with creativity and generosity. I have so many goals and dreams for the future. I can see Monroe as a center of innovative commerce and a training ground for the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. I’m also excited about the city goals to redevelop our parks and other potential trails and green space. My hope is that this effort will provide more opportunities for everyone in our area to interact with each other and nature. I’m looking forward to the genuine connections and memories that will be created in these spaces.”
Prior to taking on this role in economic development, Krawczyk was the Main Street director for the City of Monroe. That role has now been taken over by Leigh Ann Walker, and in many instances, the two are seen as a duo – sort of a two for one.
“Sadie and Leigh Ann really complement each other with their strengths. The overall success of Monroe that is visible to so many is really based on the success of our downtown,” the Mayor said. “Sadie and Leigh Ann find a way to attract people through events, safety improvements, and entertainment; by their efforts, more businesses flourish, people want to move closer to town, property values rise, and community becomes tighter and safer.”
“I’m very fortunate to have them both on staff,” Propes said. “The success of the duo is most evident in the fact that Monroe’s Downtown is at 100% occupancy of available spaces. People want to be here both as business owners and patrons. They both cultivate business relationships that pay off with great people that invest in Monroe, many times over and over again. The streets of Downtown aren’t dead anymore, they are bustling every day and night. I think the recent award of “Downtown Transformation of the Year” is a testament to how far the two of them have guided the City and its Downtown economic development over the past four-five years.”
Propes said that the success of the concerts and monthly events are largely driven by the Main Street Coordinator and says that Walker is “amazing,” touting her previous experience as a small business owner in Monroe herself as an added benefit that she is able to bring to the table, making her “keenly aware of what may or may not work for business owners, especially when it comes to coordinating events, filming, promotions, etc. with our Downtown Businesses.”
“Leigh Ann the conductor in our orchestra that is Downtown Monroe. Along with that is her work ethic. You can always count on Leigh Ann to be there when the City has something going on, big or small. She will be there before sunrise to place signs, or at midnight after a concert breaking things down; weekdays and weekends, always dependable. Leigh Ann ensures these are well-coordinated and staffed by amazing volunteers. Most folks have no idea how much planning and coordination go into these events.The fact that they all seem so routine and successful each and every year are a testament to Leigh Ann making sure everything is in place.”
Walker is known for her approachability and the fact that she is very likable.
“I don’t know anyone in town who is as well-liked as Leigh Ann,” Howard said. “And Leigh Ann’s work with our DDA is award-winning. When we go to conferences for the GA Municipal Association, happenings and events in Monroe are always points of focus. From our spring events, farmers market and concert series to fall fest to our Christmas parade, Leigh Ann is a fantastic recruiter of volunteers, and her event coordination (planning to follow-through) skills are clearly exceptional.”
Walker says its more about the people in the community.
“We are blessed with so many innovative people who have poured themselves into giving back to this place. Those who think outside of the box, those who take a risk to follow a dream, those who believe in this community even when an idea may not make sense,” she says. “Being able to support and walk alongside this process is what I love about my job. A revitalized flourishing downtown is a win for our entire county, not only in terms of economics, but in developing a sense of place for our people, preserving the history of those before us, and leaving a legacy for the next generation to continue.”
“She says it is her mission is to continue to support businesses new and existing to keep Monroe’s downtown flourishing.
“Creating unique experiences (like our full calendar of events) for our residents and visitors to enjoy in the heart of our community and making downtown feel like an extension of our home where families want to spend time with one another, new friends are met and memorable moments are captured,” Walker said. “As a lifelong resident of Monroe, there is nothing I love more than to see our community grow and thrive! I will work to continue to support preservation and revitalization of our beautiful downtown while seeking new and exciting ways to make Monroe a destination for visitors, a flourishing market for businesses, and a lifetime community for our residents.”