For Macon-Bibb County to prosper, the “increasingly enlightened” community must prepare for regional growth in coming decades, Mayor Robert Reichert said in his State of the Community address.
In his previous two addresses, Reichert used “dynamic” and “increasingly confident” for the outlook of Macon-Bibb. But during Thursday’s address, he said Macon is poised for greatness, but it’ll take a collaboration of many to meet the global demands.
Reichert delivered his latest State of the Community address at the at the Edgar H. Wilson Convention Center. The event, hosted by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, was attended by several hundred government, business, education and community leaders.
“The state of our community in 2017 is increasingly enlightened,” Reichert said. “We are still dynamic and we are still increasingly confident, but now we’re becoming increasingly aware of one simple truth: We’re in competition with other communities throughout the Southeast, across the nation and around the world for jobs, industry, population growth and tax base. We’re realizing if we’re going to compete we must have an attractive community.”
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A key to Macon-Bibb’s future is attracting the millennial workforce. According to an Atlanta Regional Commission report, Macon is on the southern edge of a super-region projected to grow by 70 percent by 2050. The trend is more people moving inside urban cores across the world, Reichert said.
“The millennial generation has the technical skills and computer programing capabilities not only to fill the existing jobs, but also to establish the entrepreneurial atmosphere in which new jobs are born,” he said. “We must attract tomorrows talented workforce to our community and we can. However that will take intentional and dedicated efforts.”
The county’s government is poised to meet the demands of the future, but there have been some bumps in the road. The previous fiscal year’s revenues were $8 million lower than expenses, even though there are about 300 fewer Macon-Bibb employees than there were prior to consolidation in 2014.
“We’re continuing working hard to make ends meet,” Reichert said.
Reichert said he’s noticed an “enlightened self-interest” among numerous organizations, agencies and other members of the community. That’s evident through the efforts of local colleges, health care industry, nonprofits and others. Cultural events such as Bragg Jam and Macon Pops and initiatives like the Eisenhower Parkway business improvement district are positives for the city-county, Reichert said.
“If we are to be a great city ... there has to be love and support for the city by more than government employees,” Reichert said. “It’s going to take love and support from the entire community.”
Reichert also cited the development of several important projects, including the proposed Ocmulgee National Monument expansion and the $495 million interchange construction on Interstate 16 and Interstate 75.
He also brought up the “2020 vision” slogan that outlines goals for the county when the current County Commission term ends.
“It’s about creating an environment for the future where people can be healthy and happy, families can be safe and secure, and business and industry can be productive and profitable,” Reichert said. “We’re on the right track and making progress but we’re not there yet.”