In Macon, our progress isn’t just measured by construction sites and hard hats. Our creative spirit works to create vibrant neighborhoods and opportunity to develop the careers of tomorrow. Check out these exciting new developments happening right now in Macon-Bibb County.
The Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative (ONPPI) is a community-based group of Middle Georgia and Muscogee (Creek) citizens working together to expand the current site of the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park into Georgia’s first National Park and Preserve. We encourage you to explore the Ocmulgee Mounds, Bond Swamp Wildlife Refuge, and the Ocmulgee River, which are jewels of history, culture, wildlife, and natural resources.
With growing national attention to the necessity of preservation in the area, we’ve committed to becoming the driving force behind local conservation efforts. We hope to see the Park and Preserve become a national park, available to future generations for recreational kayaking and canoeing, fishing, hunting, bird-watching, outdoor pursuits, historical enrichment, and cultural appreciation. This exemplary Muscogee (Creek) traditional cultural property can become the anchor for a park that brings in tourism, increasing revenue to the Macon and Middle Georgia communities, and would provide unique and previously unavailable recreational opportunities to the area.
The Ocmulgee River Corridor includes a diverse animal and plant population and is one of the last remaining wild areas in the Southeastern United States. We believe formally preserving the area between Macon and Hawkinsville along the Ocmulgee River Corridor will not only provide opportunities for recreation, education, and protection of fragile resources, but will also benefit the area economically.
The 10,000 seat Macon Amphitheater is under construction on a portion of the Macon Mall property. It will boast three distinct seating areas: 2,500 fixed seats in a stepped seating bowl, 1,500 temporary seats on a flat floor between the fixed seats and stage, and 6,000 lawn seats outside of the bowl and roof structure. VIP seating will be in 10 “boxes” between the pit and fixed seating. Two entrance plazas will have concessions, retail amenities, and restrooms, as well as overlooks providing additional VIP opportunities. Performers will have use of a 60’ deep by 72’ wide performance stage with 20’ wide wings. A 12-15’ deep loading dock is being designed to accommodate eight truck bays covered with a canopy to better serve the performers and crews. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2023.
“It’s one thing to talk about a new facility and what we hope to give to our community…it’s another thing to see what people can expect. The pictures of the new amphitheater are beautiful, and I know people will be amazed at what Macon-Bibb will offer in the form of outdoor entertainment,” said Mayor Lester Miller.
In September, the Mayor and other leaders announced that Hull Property Group would donate the Macon Mall to the government. The property will undergo a major redevelopment. In addition to building the amphitheater, the project is expected to keep current retail stores, bring in more retail, attract new restaurants into and around the Mall, relocate government offices to vacant spaces, and host new sporting activities, including the world’s largest indoor pickleball venue.
“This is a great opportunity for us to use an old and unused facility and turn it into something new,” said Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Coordinator Clay Murphy.
Expansion of the Cotton Avenue Plaza began in early November, 2022. This will expand the park area in every direction and add green space, benches, landscaping, and more. The Plaza Expansion comes as a result of the Macon Action Plan (MAP), which was developed using community input, needs, and resources to plan for green spaces and parks, street and parking changes, and other upgrades in Macon-Bibb’s Urban Core.
“This greenspace was identified in the Macon Action Plan as one of three signature greenspaces that augment and create a more inclusive and inviting urban core for citizens of our community,” said Director of Planning and Public Spaces and Urban Development Authority (UDA) Executive Director Alex Morrison. “This space was particularly identified because of its historic location at the heart of our urban grid. We’re excited to provide this greenspace that will assist businesses, citizens, and pedestrians who will have a better overall environment.”
You can watch the full groundbreaking ceremony here.
The greenspace that buffers East Macon’s Mill Hill Community Arts Village will become Bicentennial Park after it receives a million-dollar makeover in 2023. Plans for the park include a history walk, public art, and a meditative garden. The park is located near a gateway to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Macon-Bibb was able to purchase the adjacent property, which stretches to Interstate 16, for the purpose of redevelopment by private investors. Potential plans for this land include a new hotel, restaurants, offices, and multi-family residential units. Because of the size of the property, its location relative to the interstate, and its proximity to Downtown, the Convention Center, and Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, it is estimated to attract $350 million in private investment. The expected impact includes attracting larger conferences to the Convention Center, providing more affordable housing options during Downtown’s resurgence, creating a more accessible entrance to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park, providing more funds for infrastructure improvements in the neighborhoods, increasing sales tax revenue (thus reducing property taxes), and more.
Irving Tissue (also known as Irving) came to Macon-Bibb County in 2017. After two phases of growth, the company invested over $870 million in our community. This investment brought a state-of-the-art facility and 350 jobs to Macon-Bibb County.
One of Irving’s pillars includes social responsibility. They have set a new standard for what it means to enter a community as an industry. In our community, Irving has two initiatives that are transforming Macon-Bibb County and the world.
An Irving employee noticed there was an opportunity to partner with another local industry to reduce waste and cut emissions. The partnership revolves around Armstrong’s ceiling tiles that have been produced using sourced wood or paper materials. After a year of testing both locally and at headquarters, Armstrong is now able to utilize Irving’s milling byproduct that otherwise cannot be used in consumer products. This partnership diverts 3,500 tons—or 7 million pounds—of fiber waste from landfills!
The second partnership involves Macon’s local baseball team, the Macon Bacon. Tree planting has always been a vital part of Irving’s history so the dynamic duo planted two trees in the community for every broken bat, approximately 50 trees for the 2022 season alone.
Specializing in architectural products for commercial and residential buildings, YKK AP came to Macon-Bibb County in 1991. After 30 years, YKK AP announced a new, $125 million expansion. This investment will bring an additional 100 jobs on top of the existing 250.
The Macon facility will become home to the company’s residential division which manufactures vinyl windows and doors for builders and homeowners. It will serve as a model plant for future North American manufacturing facilities, featuring new technologies, advanced sustainable manufacturing processes, and enhanced work environments for employees.
The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority recently received GRAD certifications for two industrial parks—Airport East and I-75. GRAD certification is considered a “stamp of approval” for site selectors, assuring them we have developable property that can be fast-tracked and that the community they are entering is providing a business-friendly environment for their industry. YKK AP capitalized on this fast tracking, and the new, state-of-the-art facility will be located in I-75 Industrial Park.
After completion of the new facility, YKK AP will completely relocate operations to the new facility.
Bright Farms is the market leader in the Controlled Environment Agriculture industry. This fast-growing industry utilizes hydroponic greenhouses to grow food. Bright Farms focuses on baby leaf lettuce and will provide millions of pounds of produce annually serving distribution centers within a 4-hour drive of Macon-Bibb County. Shortening the supply chain ensures more communities will have access to fresh pesticide-free produce with a longer shelf life than transported products.
At full production, the Bright Farms campus is expected to include four 8-acre greenhouses for production and a horti-center that will be utilized for training, research, and visitors. With an overall investment of $200 million, Bright Farms is expected to bring about 80 jobs per phase.
Bright Farms utilizes a scalable, sustainable infrastructure with the goal of neutrality. The campus will be centered around Attaway Lake, which is expected to continue to be a beautiful local feature. Bright Farms designs their greenhouses to capture and use rainwater, purify condensate from the growing process, and reuse wastewater.
MBCIA and Bright Farms were awarded a Community Impact award from Trade and Industry Development showcasing the positive impact this project will bring to Macon-Bibb County and beyond.