Created: Fri, 17 Jan 2014 10:57:00 EST
Updated: Fri, 17 Jan 2014 11:02:13 EST
"We're changing 40 years of decline, we're reversing what has been going on in our community."
Macon-Bibb County has been identified by the federal government as a city suffering from chronic economic distress, but along with that recognition comes the promise of help.
Mayor Robert Reichert announces the cherry blossom capital is one of seven cities chosen by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to participate in the "Strong Cities, Strong Communities" initiative.
A program that identifies cities suffering from economic problems and helps them back on their feet.
"They recognize the opportunity to correct that and to change that and to reverse the course of the downward decline and instead come up."
Next month, two federal experts will move into the Macon-Bibb government center for a year.
They'll analyze spending, help streamline federal aid, bring in professional expertise and better align federal programs and investments.
Priorities are not yet set but Mayor Reichert aleady has a few ideas.
One is developing a transportation hub around the middle georgia regional airport and extending the runway.
"It would be very advantageous to the businesses that we have operating there now and their operations. It'll also create an environment that's attractive to future businesses such as maintance repair and over all air craft manufacturing and cargo operations."
Another, the Second Street Corridor Initiative, a project to help connect the east and west sides while making downtown Macon a hub for Middle Georgia.
"It really does seem key to our economic future and prosperity for the entire community. So I'm really excited that we've all gotten together around the idea that we've got to save downtown first."
Education and revitalizing blighted neighborhoods are other ideas.
While the federal experts are expected to help, Mayor Reichert says it's the efforts from the private and local public sectors that'll generate the change.
"We have hit the bottom, we're on the rebound, we're looking and we're moving up."
Cristen Drummond WGXA