A $2.3 million grant announced Friday is planned to strengthen the College Hill corridor section of Macon by developing jobs.
Mercer University is receiving the money from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over three years. The money will continue the years-long effort on place making in line with a master plan, which is being coordinated through the College Hill Alliance.
But the new grant brings a new focus on creating an innovation corridor, leveraging Mercer Universitys faculty and students to support entrepreneurs who would live and work in the area.
Now its time to look at the next phase, sustainable jobs, said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for the Knight Foundation.
The universitys expertise and other resources will benefit entrepreneurs, who could recruit Mercer students, said Nadia Osman, spokeswoman for the College Hill Alliance. Those skilled students could then remain in town with good jobs. Entrepreneurs could be developed on campus, locally, regionally or even nationally, Osman said.
Blake said a nonprofit organization, Jumpstart America, will help create the plan to foster entrepreneurship. That plan will take shape in the next six to 12 months.
In a statement, Mercer President William Underwood said that College Hill has become a national model for urban revitalization, but there is more work to be done. With this latest grant, we will build on our past success in implementing the College Hill master plan while joining with Jumpstart America to ramp up the job creation component of the initiatives mission.
At the end of the next three years, we fully expect this economic development and lifestyle enhancement endeavor to be locally sustainable.
Jumpstart America has worked in northeast Ohio to bring 12 high-growth companies. More than 2,500 jobs have been created and retained since 2004, according to the release.
Knight Foundation started with a $2 million investment in the College Hill Alliance three years ago. The Knight Neighborhood Challenge grant program has also provided about $1.3 million in grants to 88 projects. The Neighborhood Challenge grant is scheduled to run through 2014 and is administered by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.