One Macon. Is it another pointless effort to improve the quality of life in name only in Bibb County? It could be. However, with the wide range of people across the spectrum of the area’s population involved, the chances of this being a “pointless exercise” are slim.
It’s important that a community takes a real look at itself every now and again, but what makes this effort different from those of the past is the long-term commitment and inclusiveness of those pushing the process. Past efforts have been directed toward the area’s business climate and job recruitment. This 215-page study is the most comprehensive look at our community since Macon 2000, but this one, completed by Atlanta-based consulting firm Market Street Services is much more in-depth.
Finally, there is a study that recognizes education as one of the prime engines for community advancement, and while this isn’t the first study to say that, it is the first to involve the educational establishment in an effort -- long-term -- to improve. The other two areas of focus are abundant jobs that match the skills of our residents and vibrant places.
Admittedly, the goals and how to implement processes to fulfill those goals are still being developed. However, the effort that will go into this process is extreme and the moving parts incalculable. There will be a number of hurdles to jump as we learn to work collaboratively across many disciplines. The success or failure of this effort will depend on two things -- continued involvement of the entire community and accountability. The average resident has to get involved and not sit on the sidelines. Those directing the implementation have to encourage that participation and produce measurable results. These are not goals that are unknown to the organizers.
There will be some, and there always are, who will pooh-pooh the effort. That’s to be expected, but public accountability can win over even the naysayers.
Maybe in a decade or so, when asked where you come from, the answer will not be “a small town south of Atlanta,” but rather, “I’m from Macon, the most vibrant city in Georgia.” That doesn’t just happen, but could be one of the tangible results of One Macon.