The College Hill Alliance was awarded two awards from the International Economic Development Council. The first was a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for it’s efforts to recruit businesses and to encourage neighborhood revitalization in the College Hill Corridor. The second was a Silver Award in the category of Neighborhood Development Initiatives. The awards were presented on Oct. 8 during the IEDC Conference, held in Philadelphia from Oct. 6-9.
“It’s been really fun that the idea for College Hill was the idea of four mercer students and that people who are 20-21 years old are now responsible for a 78 million dollar revitalization project. That’s where we are today with the investment,” said Knight Foundation Program Director Beverly Blake. The Knight Foundation helped to start the College Hill Alliance with a $2 million grant. The idea for the Alliance came from four Mercer students.
Alex Morrison, now the executive director for the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, was one of those students. “Never take your projects lightly, or think that they’re just going on a shelf somewhere or are just for a grade. When you see something, and it’s really the Mercer way, you have to translate your studies into some type of need in world. That’s what I learned here and I’ve made a career out of that. It was all because of a project that originally we thought was a blow off class, senior capstone, we saw that there really was a need in the world and a void that we could fill and a message to be heard,” said Morrison.
Beverly Blake went on to say, “ Students: we are right across the street, College Hill Alliance is. There are internships available, there are volunteer opportunities available, and we want to continue to encourage ideas. And I think that’s the most important thing, if you have an idea for the Corridor come tells us.”
Students, as well as other members of the community will have that chance during the next Knight Neighborhood Challenge. The Challenge allows anyone with an idea for the College Hill Corridor to submit it to the Knight Foundation with the chance to win grant money. “ Dec. 31 is the next deadline for the Knight Neighborhood Challenge and it’s is open to anyone: individuals, nonprofits, for-profits, groups, clubs and anyone who has an idea to make this a more vibrant neighborhood,” said Blake. When asked if she would encourage students to submit ideas, Blake said “ absolutely and the application process is really easy and we would love to see [their ideas], we’ve had some fantastic projects from the students already.”
Morrison continued to say of the Corridor idea, “we didn’t let it die and something truly, increasingly great has happened. So I think everyone should dive full tilt into what they do here and make sure that they are always taking that next step of taking their classroom learning out into the world and finding that void to fill, either rhetorically or workwise. But you really can make something happen here because you have the ability and the credibility of being a Mercer student. That’s what you have as a Mercer student you have instant credibility in this town.”