The Community Foundation of Central Georgia announced the second Downtown Challenge, a grant program advancing the community’s best ideas for Downtown Macon. The Challenge is supported with a combined $1.5 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Peyton Anderson Foundation. Ideas from the Challenge must support the newly-updated Macon Action Plan, also released.
“The Downtown Challenge is an open invitation to nonprofits, businesses, and individuals who want to improve the community,” said Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. “We look forward to funding your ideas and encouraging your hard work in any way that advances the updated Macon Action Plan.”
Applications for the first round of grants will open on January 20, 2021, at 3:00pm and will close on March 15. To apply, visit https://cfcga.org/grant/downtown-challenge/
The refreshed Macon Action Plan builds off the original plan, supported by Knight Foundation and Peyton Anderson Foundation, which launched in October 2015. With a focus on urban core economic development, experience, living, and connectivity, the plan has been updated to include more family-friendly, inclusive, creative, and green strategies. The plan refresh better reflects changes to Macon’s urban core and was implemented as the original project was largely completed ahead of schedule.
Many of the projects funded by the first Downtown Challenge have become permanent fixtures in downtown Macon, such as the yearly Downtown Christmas Lights Extravaganza, which has over 250,000 visitors and has increased revenue for downtown businesses. The Challenge also supported public space projects, such as the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail’s expansion into the Downtown Macon grid. Since 2015, the number of trail users has more than doubled.
“Economic development downtown fuels the resurgence of our entire community, and the refreshed Macon Action Plan is the way the entire community agrees to make it happen fast, equitable and durable,” said Josh Rogers, president and CEO of NewTown Macon.
The refreshed Macon Action Plan will be presented to the boards of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority on January 26 for formal adoption and NewTown Macon adopted the plan on January 13th. The plan will be shared with multiple supporting agencies for consideration. The plan is available for public view at MaconActionPlan.com.
“The refreshed plan builds off the incredible success of the original Macon Action Plan and Downtown Challenge,” said Alex Morrison, Macon-Bibb Urban Development Authority (UDA) executive director. “We hope to harness this initial success and help the urban core reach new heights through greater inclusivity and a more targeted approach to projects as the growth moves out to other neighborhoods. When downtown is truly everyone’s part of town, everyone throughout the community benefits.”