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Macon County fell at the bottom of the list for health and economic standards in areportby the Healthcare Georgia Foundation.

The company used their 'Power Ratings' to show a correlation between public health and economic vitality.

Macon County leaders say they have taken steps to climb back up the ladder.

EconomicDevelopment Director Jimmy Davissays, "Every community's got its challenges and companies understand that. If you told them everything was perfect, they wouldn't believe you anyway, but what they want to know is what are you doing to meet, what are you doing to correct that challenge."

According to Davis, the county bought almost 130 acres of land last year to help grow the area's 14.7% unemployment rate.

He says, "We don't have a lot of people, but how do you get in the mix? We need more jobs that match our skills."

Davis says the county also upped its graduation rates from around 60% to nearly 76% last year. He hopes companies like Swartz Ag will encourage students to stay in school and eventually add to the county's 4,000 person work force.

Swartz Ag, a processing plant, opened almost two years ago, and with the help of local employees, it keeps growing.

"I think Macon County's been underrated. We have a lot of people that want to work and are hard workers," says the company's general manager.

Davis says agricultural jobs keep the county's economy from falling through the cracks.

"We got a lot to be proud of. We got a long way to go, but we've got the schools, and the school system, and our employers have made a lot of progress."

He thinks other businesses in the area will start to take off as well.

"They say a bumblebee, if you take the logistics, is not supposed to fly, but nobody told him he couldn't fly. So, he flew anyway."

Davis says two companies were able to expand over the past few years. He believes it's a sign of growth for the area.

Other areas in central Georgia can relate to Macon County's challenges. Many of them, including Dooly, Johnson, Hancock, Dodge, Washington, Taylor, Wilkinson, Wilcox, Crisp, and Taylor counties, all made the bottom third of the 'Power Ratings.'

The man behind the study, Charles Hayslett, says the rankings show that good health and a healthy economy go hand in hand.

He says, "Not only is that community that has the flu or cold or something worse less productive, but more money will go into taking care of those conditions then will be able to go into better schools and parks and roads and investments that will make it more attractive to the businesses and a better place to live."

13WMAZ's Katelyn Heck also spoke with community health officials who told her how they plan to cure the county's health issues. You can watch that story Thursday on Eyewitness News at Six.

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