Three Steps to Downtown’s Rebirth

In the 1990s, downtown Macon, GA, was beset by vacancy and decay. Today, the city is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround that garnered it one of three 2024 Great American Main Street Awards.

The honors went to NewTown Macon, the city’s downtown organization. Its results have been impressive — downtown Macon has renovated more than 100 buildings, attracted nearly 200 net new businesses, and generated $1 billion in new investment.

Three important steps cited by NewTown Macon are:

An investment in downtown buildings. A $5 million revolving loan fund issued by Bibb County kick started NewTown Macon’s loan program and led to the organization becoming a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 2021.

A focus on diversity. Macon’s Downtown Diversity Initiative is a training program for entrepreneurs. NewTown Macon launched the program in partnership with the Macon-Middle Georgia Black Pages.

The initiative has paid off — the number of black-owned businesses in downtown jumped from 28 to 50. The program has helped 23 entrepreneurs buy and renovate commercial spaces.

Creative marketing. In 2021, downtown leaders launched the Downtown Macon Hype Team. The squad is made up of 60 volunteers who sport orange T-shirts and serve as ambassadors for downtown. They provide information to visitors, build relationships with merchants, and promote downtown Macon on their personal social media accounts.

More on award winning downtown programs appears in the pages of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click below to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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