When Macon first was awarded a Main Street designation last September, the main idea behind it was to link various Macon and Bibb County organizations.
Main Street Macon held a community meeting Monday afternoon with most of its partner organizations as a way to do just that. Main Street Macon Manager Mechel McKinley informed various local organizations including the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau, NewTown Macon, the Macon Arts Alliance and others about upcoming plans designed to revitalize downtown.
“One of the most important things is that we talk with each other,” McKinley told about 40 people in attendance. “We’ve all got great ideas going on. If we connect these parallel universes together ... we can do more if we pool our resources.”
The state’s Department of Community Affairs awarded Macon only the second Urban Main Street designation in Georgia for a city of more than 50,000 people, following Columbus. Such a designation can help a city earn grants and other benefits.
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McKinley said some of the organization’s more immediate goals are on hold for a variety of reasons: a proposed Adopt-a-Sidewalk program won’t begin until after the city transfers its recreation department to Bibb County, and a sign program for downtown to include street signs and flags has been pushed back while Main Street Macon develops a plan with the College Hill Alliance, which is doing its own sign program.
The meeting Monday was largely to encourage organizations to work together to come up with a plan that will begin in fiscal 2013.
It also was an opportunity for community members to inform each other of various upcoming programs from which other organizations might benefit. For example, Macon Arts Alliance Executive Director Jim Coleman told those in attendance that his organization is putting together a calendar called “Ovations 365,” which will be a one-stop shop for all community listings.
Some in attendance asked McKinley to investigate ways to make it easier for local businesses to relocate downtown, to work with downtown neighborhood associations and to create an Earth Day program.
McKinley said there already are plans in the works for a Great American Cleanup from March 3-10, a local beer festival on Aug. 25 and Christmas in Downtown from Dec. 6-9.
Alex Morrison, executive director of the Urban Development Authority, said having the Main Street Macon program will give the community a shared voice.
“We’re planning and implementing things together,” he said. “Main Street is an entity with one voice that brings us together.”
That was the idea when Mayor Robert Reichert proposed to the City Council becoming a Main Street city, said Reichert spokesman Chris Floore.
“What we’re looking for is for organizations to come together and get information out there,” he said. “That’s what you are seeing here.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.