MACON, GA (February 1, 2024) —Visit Macon is pleased to announce that two prestigious awards were given to both Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller and the newly opened facility, Rhythm and Rally Sports and Events at the 2024 Georgia Tourism Awards presented by the Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (GACVB) held in Cartersville, Georgia.
Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller was awarded the Bill Hardman Sr. Tourism Champion Award for Government which is presented to government leaders whose extraordinary support has had significant positive impacts on tourism efforts in their community. Since his election in 2020, Mayor Lester Miller has been an incredible advocate for Visit Macon, as shown by his support and advancement of projects like the building of the Atrium Health Amphitheater, transforming a vacant department store into the world’s largest indoor pickleball facility, and demonstrating unwavering support for the Ocmulgee Mounds National Park & Preserve Initiative. Mayor Miller is also keeping tourism at the forefront in future plans such as support and partnerships to increase sports tourism opportunities in Macon and plans to increase infrastructure to allow for an influx of visitors.
President & CEO of Visit Macon, Gary Wheat, highlighted Mayor Miller’s support in the nomination submitted to GACVB. “I have not had the opportunity to work with a more engaged and supportive Mayor than Mayor Miller. His recognition of Visit Macon’s importance to the community and to economic development is without equal. I have found in other communities – both that I’ve served and where colleagues are living – that tourism must fight to get a seat at the table and for understanding. That could not be more different with Mayor Miller. From the
minute he was elected when I was asked to serve on his transition team and Tourism was highlighted as one of the four pillars of his administration, I knew Mayor Miller was going to be a huge supporter of tourism.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Seth Clarke shared that the Mayor’s legislation that has focused on a variety of ways to better the quality of life for all residents has, in turn, created a welcoming environment for visitors. “Visitors to Macon may not have the opportunity to know Mayor Miller, but they undoubtedly feel his presence. They feel his love for Macon because Mayor Miller has challenged all of us to put our best foot forward, invest in our community, and love our community as much as he does.”
Clark’s support letter goes on to list many of the major advancements in the community that now bring in visitors. “In just three years in office, he (Mayor Miller) has initiated projects and advanced priorities that will affect visitors to our community for generations. He has looked holistically at the entire city and county, creating growth opportunities throughout. From the redevelopment projects in and around the Macon Mall – the amphitheater and pickleball facility – to a focus on County-owned land that surrounds what will be the entrance to the only National Park and Preserve in Georgia, his wide view of development will positively impact every area of the community. These projects would not have been completed at the speed at which they have been without his vision, creativity, and support.”
Additionally, the Rhythm and Rally Sports and Events facility was recognized as a Travelblazer by GACVB. This recognition is given to unique and innovative projects that have significant and lasting impacts on their community. Rhythm and Rally Sports and Events was recognized for its outside-the-box use of a former retail store to create the “World’s Largest Indoor Pickleball Complex.” The 32-court facility was recognized with this pioneering award created in 2020 to recognize community destination development projects that showcase multi-partner collaboration and creative product development. The program strives to recognize projects that include tourism with an important seat at the economic development table. Rhythm & Rally was created through a unique partnership with Visit Macon, Macon-Bibb County, Macon Pickleball, Southern Pickleball Association, Macon Mall, and the Macon Urban Development Authority (UDA).
“While it is first and foremost a pickleball facility, it was designed to be a multi-use facility that can host anything from pickleball to cornhole to archery. This is original and pioneering. No other place in the Southeast has a facility like this and we are getting calls from other areas around the country to find out how we did and what we did. This is creating a unique impact within the industry and the community,” said Macon Mayor Lester Miller in a letter supporting the nomination.
“Visit Macon is honored to have the tourism industry of Georgia strongly recognize the efforts of so many of our partners with these two awards,” explained Wheat. “Both Mayor Miller and Alex Morrison of UDA have done amazing things for the economic driver that is tourism in our community with a single facility alone. They are advancing the visitor economy in Macon through the projects that have already opened and those that are entering the market in the near future. Visit Macon has the opportunity to be more successful because of the support and partnerships with the Mayor and organizations that were recognized in the nominations.”
For more information, please contact Visit Macon’s Director of Marketing, Marisa Rodgers, at (478) 743-1074 x106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.