Macon Just Got Hotter

Gateway Macon Presentation to PartnersMACON, GA (10/01/2010) - There is at least one thing that most people in Macon, Georgia can agree on. It’s hot! Today, even though the thermometer dipped down a few degrees, Macon got even hotter as The Peyton Anderson Foundation announced funding of $1,511,000 for the implementation of the Gateway Initiative. The community-wide plan is designed to foster collaboration and leverage resources for the mutual benefit and economic growth of Macon’s citizens, businesses and organizations by connecting efforts to promote Macon to a regional, statewide and national audience.

The Peyton Anderson Foundation recognized the need to actively and efficiently promote Macon and the community’s assets to a wider audience. This investment comes at a critical time, simultaneously benefiting area businesses and organizations, including the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, local museums, performance venues, and theatres impacted by current economic realities.

Over the years, millions of dollars have been conservatively spent studying the challenges that face not just Macon, but many other American cities. A strategic plan was developed utilizing these studies and additional research data. Creative concepts and promotions were inspired by successful community development models from Santa Fe, a city that shares many of Macon’s cultural assets, and New Orleans, which also faces significant challenges. Additionally, content was based on dialogue with community leaders and representatives of our area colleges.

The result is a multifaceted, highly strategic initiative that builds on the success and momentum of existing efforts and promotes Macon’s primary assets: location, status as the cultural center of the region, colleges and universities, and availability of affordable and exceptional real estate inventory.

To achieve maximum effectiveness, the Gateway Initiative must draw in organizations with diverse agendas. Developing relationships with existing organizations and nurturing new franchises is essential. “A collaborative community approach will allow Macon to be presented in a fresh light to a new receptive audience,” according to Macon-Bibb CVB President and CEO, Monica Smith.

As of today, the following have signed on as participating organizations in this innovative initiative: Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, NewTown Macon, Historic Macon Foundation, Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, The Hay House, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Mercer University, Macon State College, Wesleyan College, Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon Arts Alliance, and the Tubman African American Museum.

“We anticipate that many more of Macon’s sites, festivals, venues and businesses will come on board as the Gateway becomes fully operational.” says Beth Dunwody, project manager.  Dunwody’s passion for the community combined with her optimistic outlook and relationship development skills make her the ideal candidate to lead this important initiative. “It is critical that the community understands that the intent of this plan is not to reinvent the wheel or duplicate existing efforts, but rather to put collective marketing horsepower behind the efforts already underway.”

Wesleyan president, Ruth Knox states, “Wesleyan College is excited about collaborating with other partners of The Gateway Initiative to attract the next generation of community leaders to our extraordinary city. The Initiative promises to build on the successes of many existing city-wide marketing campaigns with new interactive, innovative multi-channel strategies designed to capture the attention of a broad audience of young adults. From history, culture, and economic opportunity to hot nightlife, everything you need to learn, live, and thrive is right here in Central Georgia. Working together is essential to telling a compelling and wide-reaching story about the vibrant city of Macon.”

Peyton Anderson Foundation Director, Juanita Jordan agrees,” The success of all our community organizations and their respective missions is vital to ensure the success and economic growth of the Macon community as a whole. None of these organizations can reach their maximum potential in isolation. The success of the Initiative will ultimately be measured by the success of the participating organizations, which the initiative is designed to serve, as together we aggressively promote our community.”

The plan takes advantage of both traditional and millennial methodologies. Creative concepts will cross-pollinate to provide a facelift to the vacant buildings downtown and content for innovative touch screen kiosks. High impact film elements will feature an original score and music video showcasing Macon’s musicians, diversity, cultural assets, and musical legacy.

Central to the strategy is the creation of an online gateway to Macon. The proposed web presence is not just another web site. New technology and multiple platforms will be integrated into one cohesive brand to meet the interactive expectations of a new generation while taking advantage of the marketing potential of social media and a viral environment.

Finally, drawing upon the research and models used by cities around the globe including Santa Fe, NM, and New Orleans, LA, the plan merges the multiple objectives of attracting creative professionals, utilizing viral marketing and showcasing Macon in a series of high impact promotions. One of the key components of the marketing strategy is to host competitions focused on small business, music and film to generate interest in and increase awareness of Macon across the nation.

The Gateway Initiative is ambitious, strategic and innovative. It looks forward and has the potential to redefine perceptions of Macon. It capitalizes on Macon’s significant assets and takes advantage of the momentum of the latest technologies. The Gateway will be the unifying force in the targeted promotion of Macon.

Commenting on the Gateway strategy, trustee of The Peyton Anderson Foundation, Tom Johnson, states “This is without a doubt the best initiative of its kind that I have ever seen. Period.” Johnson is a native of Macon and a former reporter on The Macon Telegraph, who became publisher of the Los Angeles Times and chairman of CNN.