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Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021

Macon selected for Strong Cities, Strong Communities

Macon is thriving, and people are noticing. In addition to being selected for the C-SPAN Cities Tour, Macon was recently one of seven cities selected to be a part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative. This initiative is a pilot program launched by the White House that, according to the official White House blog, “aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies.”

One of 51 cities to apply, Macon made it all the way to being selected for this opportunity to have two federal helpers stay for at least a year in order to help develop jobs and other projects that the mayor’s office has planned for Macon.

“A lot of our projects are very long-term. Some are five to 10 years, and some are 20 to 30 year projects,” said director of public affairs for the City of Macon, Chris Floore. “But what we’ve seen in the past six to seven years is we are getting more and more attention for the work we’re doing, and recognition for the success we’ve had.”

Some of those plans include lengthening the runway at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport in order to attract industry, as well as economically developing the Second Street Corridor. “What we’ve heard throughout the process is that they were very impressed with the Mayor’s Office having strategic plans and having identified how to overcome the challenges we face,” said Floore.

The federal staffers will work in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office to help move some of these plans along, whether it be through finding money or providing the technical assistance that the local government may need. The initiative was introduced in 2011, and has had great success in the previous cities that have been chosen. Other cities chosen with Macon include St. Louis, Mo.; Gary, Ind.; Flint, Mich.; Rockford, Ill. and Rocky Mount, N.C.

Mayor Robert Reichert says he wants to use this help to work on jobs, schools and places around Macon, even if it’s not quite clear yet how much financial support the federal staffers will be able to bring in. “We’re changing 40 years of decline,” said Reichert. “We are reversing what’s going on in our community.”

The initial application was submitted at the end of May 2013, and was about the needs of the community, as well as its strengths. Macon was then one of 15 cities to receive a conference call with the Strong Cities, Strong Communities team, which resulted in its being chosen with six other cities to be visited on site.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Floore. “But even the attention we’re getting from national media outlets, you can see internally, everyone is on board to work together and make things happen. We all recognize that everyday if we’re going to make an improvement, it has to have a long-term impact. To have the consolidation on Jan. 1, and two weeks later announced we’re part of a government initiative and then a week later have C-SPAN come to talk about our great city, this has been an exciting time for our community.”


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