One of my most enjoyable columns each year is my Crystal Ball predictions for the New Year. I thought it would be fun to look back at last year's predictions to see how well I did before moving on to 2017's.
2016 Crystal Ball predictions:
Walmart would build a second Neighborhood Market on the west side of town. Kroger and Publix would continue their race to see which one would be the first to re-enter the Statesboro grocery market. We will see movement on one of these this year.
Result: Walmart developers came close to acquiring an entire city block to construct a second Market in Statesboro. The location would have been at the corner of North Main and Northside Drive East across from the Enmark Station. Negotiations failed when a property owner refused to sell and collapsed the entire deal.
We have had what is becoming comical near misses with both Publix and Kroger.
East Georgia Regional Medical Center would announce a major expansion and continue its focus to recruit talented new physicians into our community. Several local physician groups would break ground on new state of the art complexes.
Result: EGRMC began a $2.5 million expansion and Statesboro Cardiology has moved into a brand new 10,000-square-foot building.
Statesboro would advance to the second round in the America's Best Cities competition, which would continue to jump start the Blue Mile project.
Result: Statesboro did advance in the competition and is one of eight finalists for the $3 million grand prize.
Politically there would be some surprise retirements creating open seats for a few of the most coveted elected offices in the county. The races would be hotly contested and a new generation of political leaders would be sworn in.
Result: Nine new elected officials were sworn in. The biggest upset was the election of Noel Brown as sheriff. We now have a new County Commission chairman, two new county commissioners, a new superior court judge and probate judge, a new state court solicitor and two new Bulloch County Board of Education members.
My 2017 Crystal Ball predictions:
Winning is the name of the game in 2017.
Our first win will come in the form of a new grocery store. A much sought after, big name grocery chain will announce that they re-enter the Statesboro marKet with the constRuction Of a new store. It will not be as biG as we had hopEd, but neveRtheless the scaled-down version will be a triumphant win for Statesboro.
We will win the America's Best Cities Competition and bring home the $3-million prize. This win will accelerate the Blue Mile Project and give our city a huge bounce in the national media. The spotlight of the entire country will be on the winningest city in all of America - Statesboro, Ga.
A consortium of local doctors, business leaders and a philanthropist will put together an investment group and make a pass at purchasing back EGRMC from its parent company with a goal of making it the most advanced, affordable and most successful community-owned health center in America.
The Statesboro Mayoral election will see a crowded field of contestants. The winner's platform will include a detailed plan to combat crime, a plan to finally bring liquor package sales to Statesboro and streamline regulations to make us the most business friendly community in America.
Newly elected Commission Chairman Roy Thompson will pull together a special task force that will do whatever it takes to win in economic development. His soft-spoken, boots-on-the-ground leadership style will touch every segment of our community.
Looking for winning years from our sports teams, as well. Statesboro High, Georgia Southern will bounce back and Tormenta FC will improve on a great debut.
Buckle up, 2017 is going to be a fascinating, stimulating and over-the-top exciting year in Statesboro.
Please email DeWayne at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.