City leaders often compare Macon to Columbus when it comes to economic problems and solutions. The comparison took center stage at NewTown Macon's annual community meeting Wednesday night.
The Downtown development organization recruited Teresa Tomlinson, mayor of Columbus, to give the keynote address.
Tomlinson says it took $600 million in private and public investments to revitalize downtown Columbus, but the tipping point was when they developed the Chattahootchee River into a tourist attraction.
Mayor Robert Reichert said Macon can have a similar success story.
"As more and more of these developments take place," he said, "the pattern is going to emerge and all of a sudden people will say 'Aha! Look at downtown Macon. It is a vibrant urban core that serves as a hub city for the middle Georgia region.'"
Columbus was the state's first consolidated government and Tomlinson congratulated Macon and Bibb for following suit.
"It reduces the bureaucracy, it greatly increases your efficiency," she said.
But Reichert said the revitalization checklist goes beyond consolidation. He wants to see the Second Street corridor plan implemented, and a connection between I-75 and I-16. He also wants to improve and bolster the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.
Tomlinson said it's all part of a long process that doesn't always yield dramatic results in the early stages.
"There are those times when you think you're doing everything you can and it's just not happening yet, but a lot of things bubble under the surface," she said. "You never know exactly what it's gong to be but once it happens, your community is never the same, you're on that trajectory to a whole other chapter in your city's history. It's a very exciting thing to see."