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Macon getting federal help for distressed cities | News

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Macon getting federal help for distressed cities
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Two federal staffers will spend at least a year helping Bibb County develop jobs and work on other improvements.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Thursday Macon-Bibb is one of seven cities chosen for its "Strong Cities Strong Communities" initiative.

The program brings federal teams to town for a year or more to work on economic development.

The federal agency says 51 cities applied and the seven were picked because they showed signs of economic distress. The agency also looked for cities with "local leadership with a clear vision."ID=4527465

Mayor Robert Reichert says he wants to use the federal help to work on "jobs," "schools" and "places."

As of now, it's still unclear just how much money the program will bring to town in terms of grants or other revenue.

Reichert's plans include revitalizing downtown and the Second Street corridor and helping the city develop new transit lines.

That's something the Macon Transit Authority welcomes.

"We're operating on a system that was produced 15-20 years ago, and it hasn't grown," Rick Jones, general manager of the Macon Transit Authority, said. "It's going to bring people in here that have knowledge and look at our systems and develop them in the most efficient way possible."

The two federal staffers are expected to arrive in February and stay for a year. The city can apply for a renewal after that year.

The staffers are expected to provide "technical advice and expertise" in using resources the city already has and applying for new federal grants.

"We're changing 40 years of decline," Reichert said. "We are reversing what's going on in our community."

Also chosen were St. Louis, Mo.; Gary, Ind.; Flint, Mich.; Rockford, Ill.; and Rocky Mount, N.C.

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