Macon Now! moves to second phase of fundraising to improve local employment

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On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Macon NOW! held a pep rally to begin its second phase in its initiative to revitalize employment. The campaign was developed by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce as a way to strengthen the workforce in Macon and Bibb County. The event was held at the Cox Capital Theatre and was a celebration of the success of phase one and the launch of phase two.
Since its creation in 2003, the campaign has raised $1.3 million in secured pledges while generating $255 million in consumer spending and an economic output of $1.6 billion. Over 70 businesses have pledged their support for Macon NOW!, including Mercer University, BB&T and Merril Lynch.
The first phase was intended to last for five years, but due to the economy, extended to six. During that time, Macon NOW! produced 4,400 new jobs and saved 427. The second phase aims to raise that number to a total of 9,000.
The campaign has three main initiatives that include maintaining existing companies, and recruiting new companies and community image.
One of the major concerns in the new phase is “implementing training programs,” said president and CEO of the chamber and MEDC, Chip Cherry.
Cherry has had countless interviews with companies trying to help applicants become certified to work. “There are 140 current jobs that can’t be filled because applicants are not qualified,” said Cherry of the Macon workforce.
Through funding, Macon NOW! has assisted companies train staff using programs like Quick Start, an IT technical training program, to make sure employees are capable to work.
Training programs enabled by Macon NOW! range over a broad scale of jobs; everything from plumbing to customer service.
The second phase will emphasize not only training, but also education.
Universities, community colleges and two-year-programs have become necessary requirements for countless applicants.
Cherry stresses that many working citizens in the county have not gone to college and are unable to attain a degree required for a job. Macon NOW! recently conducted a survey with 600 companies which will be used as a basis for discussion with partners and education programs.
Cherry has been working with the Mercer Engineering School and intends to extend his reach to many universities in Georgia to discuss the implementation of skills education that businesses are requiring.
By accomplishing this goal, Cherry believes that students will receive the degree they need to become eligible workers.
Over the next year Macon NOW! plans to continue recruiting and retaining companies within not only Macon and Bibb county, but also in Georgia. They currently have 24 projects tied to existing companies and 200 industry interactions.
Cherry has set in motion an advertisement campaign to discuss job opportunities for parents and students. The goal, as stated on the Macon NOW! web page is to “Develop a comprehensive awareness campaign that positions Macon as a dynamic and vibrant community in the minds of the citizens of Macon, Bibb County, and Middle Georgia.”
For more information or to get involved with Macon Now!, please visit maconchamber.com or call the Chamber of Commerce at 478-621-2000.

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