Macon-Bibb received a $1.5 million grant from the state to help improve downtown. Those funds will go toward parts of Second Street to connect downtown businesses to Navicent Health. Yvonne Thomas spoke to a business owner and city leader about what this could mean for downtown.

Nick Rizkalla says his dream was to have his own business. “I always wanted to open my own restaurant or a music venue, one or the other, so we kind of combined them into this space here,” said Rizkalla, General Manager of Roasted Café and Lounge.

And when the time was right in 2011, he knew the perfect place to set up shop. He says he found it early. “When we first started, we were one of the only businesses on Second Street.”

With the help of a new $1.5 million grant to expand the Second Street Corridor, the city hopes that even more business owners like Rizkalla will line this street. “It will allow us to continue the make improvements,” said city spokesman Chris Floore. “Whether it's the road resurfacing, the bike lanes, the landscaping, the benches, anything that can make the corridor more pedestrian- and bike-friendly.”

This new grant will allow city leaders to expand about two blocks on the west side of downtown Macon. Rizkalla says having more walkable streets will give customers a better downtown experience. “We're pretty much in the heart of downtown. You know, Second Street is becoming the gateway. It's gonna become the new Cherry Street,” said Rizkalla.

The next steps in this project finalizing the layout. “Our next steps are to hire an engineer, someone who can put together the drawings for the next two blocks,” said Floore.

Bibb was one of 22 counties selected for this state grant.