Deal signs downtown development law in Macon

Staff reportApril 16, 2014 

Gov. Nathan Deal was in Macon Wednesday to sign into law the Downtown Renaissance Act and commend the Mercer University men’s basketball team.

Standing along Poplar Street, Deal said the measure is aimed at bolstering downtowns across the state with a revolving loan fund.

“It will give an opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to do business in a downtown area ... the opportunity to have a capital fund that they can draw against,” the governor said.

Mid-tier cities such as Macon stand to benefit most from the initiative.

The Renaissance Act was sponsored by state Rep. Allen Peake of Macon and was developed in partnership with the Georgia Downtown Association. The act will provide the Department of Community Affairs with $5 million in funding for four years to provide technical assistance and loans to municipal corporations to carry out downtown redevelopment initiatives.

Mayor Robert Reichert and representatives from downtown organizations joined Deal and Peake.

Deal, sporting a Mercer University tie, also gave a tip of the hat to the Mercer men’s basketball team for its recent showing in the NCAA tournament.

The governor mentioned his days as a Mercer undergraduate and law student and told reporters he frequented the downtown area then.

“I must say, as I look around today you all have a lot to be proud of with the revitalization of the downtown area,” Deal said.

Peake, in describing the commerce-attracting plan, said, “A hundred thousand dollars here, $50,000 there, $200,000 here, that’s a real difference for a lot of businesses.”

He said the intent is to spur growth in cities like Macon, “the Columbuses, the Augustas and Savannahs ... that really need it.”

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