Downtown Challenge Grants awards 26 projects to revitalize downtown

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Community Foundation of Central Georgia gave out the final round of Downtown Challenge Grants. In three years more than $2-million worth of projects have come from the grant.

This final round of Downtown Challenge Grants will fund 26 projects. Winners of the grant say this will continue to revitalize, not only downtown Macon, but the rest of Bibb County.

“A lot of people mention to me that downtown use to be an unsafe place, a lot of closed stores, there wasn’t a lot of people, but now if you go downtown you’ll see plenty of people, walking, eating at the restaurants, going up to their lofts,” The Community Foundation Communication and Development Associate Nancy Cleveland said.

Since The Community Foundation of Central Georgia began investing in the Downtown Challenge Grants’ members of the organization say downtown is flourishing.

“I feel like now that we have revitalized downtown it’s time for us to enclose around downtown and really create a sense of place that spreads out throughout Macon-Bibb County,” she said.

The final round of grants are funding over $450,000 for 26 projects. These grants are part of a 5-year plan to improve Macon’s urban core.

“We have been able to give away $2.7 million of that money in 4 different areas: economic development, experience, living, and connectivity,” Cleveland said.

It’s funding projects help accommodate those using transportation, other than cars. Bike Walk Macon will soon have a 24/7 vending machine for bike parts.

“The Downtown Challenge is not just improving mobility through our organization. There are so many organizations that are jumping on board to do creative things when it comes to biking, walking, and public transportation,” Bike Walk Macon Director Rachel Hollar said.

The grant will bring projects outside of downtown. Pleasant Hill will have three projects bringing community archives to the historic neighborhood.

“To see different economic business models exist in the area, or whether it’s social activities things like that is really important for that sense of community, allowing people to come together and be able to celebrate themselves,” Awaree Tonja Khabir said.

This grant money is separate from On the Table Conversation to Action Grant. Community Foundation staff say On the Table will expand the revitalization success.