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Gov. Deal signs downtown "renaissance act" in Macon | News

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Gov. Deal signs downtown "renaissance act" in Macon
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Steve Bell's been busy getting ready to open his new grocery store in downtown Macon.

Called Ocmulgee Traders, Bell said Wednesday he opens in a few weeks.

"We call it an urban market so it's, if you think of a European market, this is kind of the size store you find in Europe," Bell said.

Once done, Bell said, it'll be the only grocery store in downtown. He was so busy putting in flooring Wednesday morning that he missed the governor right across the street.

Gov. Nathan Deal was in Macon signing into law a bill he said is designed to help businesses like Bell's.

"You all have a lot to be proud of with the revitalization of the downtown area, and this piece of legislation will allow even more of that to occur," Deal said.

The bill would provide $5 million in loans to be used by businesses starting up in down towns across Georgia.

State Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican who sponsored the bill, attended the signing ceremony.

"A lot of small businesses can maybe get a bank loan for the bricks and mortar, but maybe the next step to get open is what this financing can provide," Peake said.

Both Deal and Peake acknowledged the bill hasn't been funded, but they hope it'll be done next year.

As for Bell, he said a similar development loan has helped him get his grocery store work underway. His grocery is part of the old Dannenberg department store, which is being converted to loft apartments.

"You can't have all the loft development, residential development without a grocery store," Bell said. "Not only are we gonna feed our clients, but we're gonna feed the growth of downtown."

Several state lawmakers accompanied Deal at the signing. They included Peake and Reps. Jimmy Pruett of Eastman, Bubber Epps of Dry Branch,and Robert Dickey of Musella.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge


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