Efforts to revitalize Statesboro’s downtown, and the men and women working to promote the cause, were honored Tuesday evening at an annual banquet hosted by the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority.
City representatives and local leaders gathered at Main Street’s Statesboro Quality Inn for a reception and social as part of an Annual Award and Accomplishments Gala recognizing major improvements to the city’s downtown.
The affair highlighted programs and initiatives that improved Statesboro’s downtown in 2011 and provided awards to individuals within the community whose efforts bolstered business and life in the area.
“A lot of times people see great things occurring downtown, and wonder who is behind all of it,” said Allen Muldrew, executive director for the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority. “This event is where we inform folks about who is doing all of these great things downtown.”
“We are really excited about giving out the awards to our wonderful nominees and sharing with our community the great things that are happening downtown,” he said.
Muldrew, prior to the award presentation, reviewed a list of DSDA accomplishments during the previous year. He applauded the work to transform an abandoned warehouse into the new Georgia Southern University City Campus — a building that now houses a university store, Georgia Southern’s Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development, and an entrepreneur center.
“This project is a prime example of downtown redevelopment,” he said. “I look forward to many other projects like this one in the future.”
Muldrew also drew attention to a recently erected sign — which reads “Welcome to Statesboro” — that is located on South Main Street, a new Downtown Master Plan and the creation of an incentives program intended to support new and expanding businesses in the downtown area.
Becky Hoover, Chair of the Board of Directors for the DSDA, delivered a PowerPoint presentation celebrating the events hosted by Downtown Statesboro throughout the year. The various events included: F1RST Fridays, The Farmers Market, Scare on the Square, Holiday Celebration and The Wedding Walk.
According to Hoover, The Farmers Market alone produced a boost of about $250,000 to the Statesboro-area over the course of 34 Saturdays in 2010.
The DSDA honored the individuals who made its year’s successes possible by handing-out five Brick Awards.
Wesley Parker, board member for the DSDA, presented the Pioneer Award to Debra and Steve Chester, who established and maintain The Farmers Market, the Heritage Award — given to property owners who have shown consistent support to Downtown Statesboro — to DeWayne and Lori Grice of Lori Grice Photography, and the Best New Business Award to Mehmet Samiratedu, of the University Store at City Campus.
“This is a huge honor,” said Lori Grice. “We have been downtown for 19 years with our business. The DSDA’s motto of live, work and play is truly what we do.”
“It is absolutely an honor. We have been working on this [City Campus] for two and a half years,” said Samiratedu. “I am really happy and think we have a tremendous opportunity to be a part of downtown Statesboro.”
The City of Statesboro Public Works Department was awarded the Best Landscaping Improvement Award — for its work on the new sign — and Statesboro City Councilman Travis Chance was recognized as the Best Downtown Supporter — for his backing of the incentives program implemented by the DSDA.
“I’m shocked and humbled,” said Chance. “The incentives package was a collaborative effort, and a lot of hard work by many individuals, and I just went in the direction they pointed. I really appreciate it.”
The DSDA also welcomed four new board members for 2011-2012 — community members Rob Wilkerson, Terry Reeves, Laura Wheaton and Per Holtze.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.