For nearly 30 years, my wife, Lori, and I have operated Lori Grice Photography on East Main Street in downtown Statesboro. We have seen the ebb and flow of businesses in the core of downtown. We understand the struggle of operating a small business, especially on Main Street. There are both challenges and rewards in doing so. Each of us who chooses to operate a businesses in the core of downtown has made a special commitment to our community to invest in, and continue to work toward, maintaining a thriving downtown.
If you ask anyone who visits Statesboro, one of the things they are quick to mention is the charm of our downtown. We all know that's true, but we also know that it could be much better. If you venture a block or two from the courthouse, you will quickly see opportunities for improvement. In fact, there has been a concentrated effort on the revitalization of our "front door," which is also referred to as the "Blue Mile." This includes the portion of South Main that connects downtown with Georgia Southern University.
There are critical elements in play that have become the catalysts for growth and the continued success of our downtown.
Through incredible public-private investments in projects like the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Averitt Center for the Arts, we have seen a renewed commitment to downtown.
Entrepreneurs like Ray Hendley and Nick Propps are focused on increasing creative and unique housing opportunities downtown. We have increased connectivity to GSU with the "Blind Willie" McTell Trail, which helps to unify our focus of making downtown a place where our community lives, works and plays.
One of the most incredible projects that I consider a real sleeper is the location of the City Campus to downtown and the expansion of the City Campus to include the new Fab Lab. This project signals a unique partnership and commitment between the university and the city of Statesboro. University President Brooks Keel made an early commitment to support downtown in every way possible and has made good on that promise.
Keel, the mayor and City Council, downtown businesses and partner agencies like the Averitt Center for the Arts, Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau continue to go all in with their commitment to downtown. Even with all of these efforts, we would like to see it happen a little faster. Nothing will boost these efforts more than an increased and targeted investment strategy.
In this election, you will have an opportunity to help give downtown this boost by supporting the creation of a tax allocation district, or TAD.
Allen Muldrew, the executive director of the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, and his board chairman, Bob Mikell, are leading the effort to pull all of the partner agencies together with the business community in support of redevelopment powers through the creation of a TAD.
Basically, the TAD in the downtown area will help generate revenue to support critical investments. The best part of this tremendously creative district is that it does not cost anyone in the affected area or anyone living in the city 1 penny more in taxes. Even though that nasty word tax is used, it is not a new tax. Instead, what the city and other taxing entities agree upon is that they will basically freeze the tax levels where they are currently inside the TAD. All growth from property appreciation, acquisition, renovation and new construction would go completely to fund the redevelopment of downtown. Because of this, it is a reallocation of tax revenue instead of a new tax.
You may recall that we passed a TAD in 201l countywide to support the new industrial park being developed at U.S. Highway 301 and Interstate 16. One of the most famous uses of a TAD statewide was the redevelopment of Atlantic Station in Atlanta.
Bottom line, if you live in the city of Statesboro and want to see downtown continue to prosper vote "yes" in support of the TAD.
If you vote early this week, you can vote in both the special TAD city election and the statewide election in one place at the courthouse. However, if you wait until Tuesday to vote, based upon where you live, you may have to vote at two different polling locations because the city and county have different precinct lines.
With your vote of support, we can all look for continued growth and prosperity in our charming downtown because working together works.
Please email DeWayne at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.