The “State of Downtown” is strong and looking up, Downtown Statesboro Development Authority officials say.
That was the message of the DSDA’s annual meeting Thursday evening at the Quality Inn and Suites on South Main Street. The meeting served to give downtown merchants and community leaders an update on the area’s progress over the last year.
Allen Muldrew, the authority’s executive director, along with members of his board and staff, presented reports, including listing 25 new businesses that joined downtown in the past year.
“The continued success downtown relies on the commitment of the merchants, our partner agencies and, most importantly, the continued support of our citizens to support downtown merchants and events,” he said. “The merchants and I hope to see you all downtown shopping soon!”
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the “Best Brick” awards given to individuals and businesses that have made the biggest impact on downtown Statesboro. Each award includes an engraved black plaque attached to an actual brick recycled from downtown renovation projects.
Best New Business went to Franklin Dismuke and his team at Eagle Creek Brewing Company. Eagle Creek has become a big attraction to downtown since converting an abandoned restaurant into a brewery and tasting center.
Eagle Creek began brewing on-site Oct. 1 and distributing to Vidalia and Brunswick. The brewery now distributes to Columbus, Augusta and Valdosta, as well as Aiken and Barnwell in South Carolina. Eagle Creek has plans to distribute its beer in north Georgia by the end of July. The company has started canning two of its beers, Grass Roots Lemon Lime and Spot Tail Blonde, in the last couple months.
Wendy Denton, assistant director of service learning in Georgia Southern University’s Office of Student Leadership & Civic Engagement, was named Best Downtown Supporter. Dr. Todd Deal, the office director, and Jodi Kennedy, associate director, shared this award on behalf of the hundreds of volunteer hours students in university programs committed to critical downtown projects.
Best Downtown Developer went to Bryan Davis with Hendley Properties. Hendley has redeveloped and created more than 140 rental units downtown. The most recent is at the corner of South Mulberry and East Grady streets, across from Frontier Communications’ office. This development is a good example of how downtown areas can be made attractive and desirable places to live through creative redevelopment.
The last award given was the Heritage Award, which was given to AgSouth Farm Credit. Ag South is another example of the important role businesses play in downtown renovation and resurgence.
AgSouth purchased an abandoned grocery story and the former City Hall building and renovated them into beautiful, functional buildings downtown. These buildings now house the financial institution’s local, regional and corporate offices. Ag South has grown to become a $1.5 billion company serving communities in several states.
DSDA officials also cited AgSouth for generously donating its parking lots for a variety of community events and support other downtown projects throughout the year.
The authority’s mission is to focus on the economic development, historic preservation, and beautification of Statesboro’s downtown area. Officials work to achieve this goal by revitalizing downtown economically and socially within the context of historic preservation by increasing financial viability and ensuring the success of businesses.
Bob Mikell, a Statesboro native and attorney with Brown and Rountree, was elected chairman of the DSDA board. New board members include Frank D’Arcangelo, an architect with Martin Rule & Associates; Jason Anderson, the director of the Small Business Development Center; Brad Sheffield with Sea Island Bank; and Mary Foreman, the owner of Wise Choice Realty.
DeWayne Grice may be reached at (912) 489-9499.