“Let me ask, do you have your ticket to this game?” Mayor Lester Miller asked the hundreds of people sitting inside of the Macon City Auditorium for the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce’s Annual State of the Community. Before this question, the crowd watched a video of multiple community members at the Historic Luther Williams Field explaining what each of their agencies and organizations have been up to in the past year, with a baseball game theme. You can watch it here.
Following the video, Mayor Miller walked on the stage to the sound of ‘Taking Care of Business’ by Bachman -Turner Overdrive playing. He thanked everyone, including the County Commission, for their work throughout the year.
“We are moving forward together because of your love of this community, your willingness to have hard discussions, and your ability to work together,” said Miller.
This year’s State of the Community revolved around Macon’s 200th birthday this year. Catering was done by local businesses, Acres & Oak Kitchen, Fincher’s Barbecue and Catering Inc., H&H Soul Food, Natalia’s, OVG Hospitality, and The Butcher Shop. Art from the Bicentennial Art Show at the Macon Mall was propped against the stage for everyone to see, and every table had Bicentennial swag. It was also a reminder for everyone to look back at all that our community has overcome and done in the last 200 years.
“We are shining a light on all of our history, good and bad, and we are looking forward to see how we can right the wrongs other people did, but are still connected to us,” said Mayor Miller. “Look at the people around your table and those nearby and feel their strength to do this difficult, emotional, and important work.”
In the last year, we entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and raised their flag in front of City Hall for the first time in history. Mayor Miller also touched on our ongoing efforts in our Blight Fight, the Brookdale Resource Center, GBI opening an office in town, growing business and industry, affordable housing, Macon Action Plan, and Macon Mall and amphitheater.
“Other governments and communities are looking to us now for guidance and advice. We are teaching others, rather than having to seek out the training,” said Mayor Miller. “Our team spoke at Harvard University on how we are using American Rescue Plan funds so quickly and so well to help people, families, and neighborhoods.”
He also mentioned record-setting numbers when it comes to the tourism brought into Macon. For the first time ever, our hotel motel sales tax collection surpassed $6 million, which is nearly $900,000 from the year before. Attendance at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park was up by 50% in the first three months of 2023 over 2022.
“This is not a victory lap, my friends. This is a moment in time. This is a moment to stop, breathe, and look back. To pick our heads up from the work and see what’s been done,” said Mayor Miller.
He admitted there is still work to be done in improving public safety. Macon Violence Prevention (MVP) will keep funding our nonprofits and faith-based programs that are working directly in our neighborhoods to address the root cause of violence. While we are already seeing results, there is still more to be done.
Mayor Miller also assured the audience there will be another roll back in property taxes thanks to the passage of the Other Local Option Sales Tax (OLOST). He mentioned many other achievements that are in the works, all to make Macon-Bibb better.
“We are here today during our Bicentennial because we have always looked to the future and tried to create something better for our lives, for our children’s lives…and for those of our friends and neighbors,” said Miller. “And every win I’ve talked about today…every win I didn’t have time to mention…every win we will have…will, in 100 years, be traced back to one answer to the questions of ‘why” and “how.’ Because of our people and our strength.”
A special thanks to the community sponsors:
|First Choice Primary Care|
|Platinum Sponsor||Communities in Schools|
|Gold Sponsors||Atrium Health Navicent|
|Macon Bibb County Industrial Authority|
|McNair Mclemore Middlebrooks|
|Silver Sponsors||James Bates Brannan Groover|
|Macon Water Authority|
|A Taste of Macon Row Sponsor||One South Bank|
|Bronze Sponsors||Community Foundation|
|Robins Credit Union|
|Table Sponsors||Aspen Products|
|Central Georgia Tech|
|City of Warner Robins|
|Fickling and Co.|
|Macon Occupational Medicine|
|Northside Cancer Hospital|