What a year 2015 has been.
Here is a recap of the business highlights:
We started the year with the sale of HeritageBank of the South to Mississippi's Renasant Bank. Shortly after the sale was announced Gary Johnson left Renasant Bank to become president of Bulloch First a subsidiary of Citizens Bank of Swainsboro. Wes Simmons was named vice president. Bulloch First initially opened a loan production office and has acquired land to build a branch in the Market District.
We saw the opening of Statesboro Bank on Savannah Avenue, a division of Glennville Bank and Trust. John Lane was named market president, Carolyn Ethridge, vice president and Jennifer Wynn, assistant vice president. Lane and Ethridge moved from BB&T.
Farmers & Merchants Bank cleared the FDIC regulatory order, which allowed the bank to operate more freely without the restrictions and tight oversight of the FDIC.
CORE Credit Union welcomed Bob Clampett as their new CEO, replacing Bobby Michael, who took a position with a credit union in Alabama. Geo Vista Credit Union announced the purchase of the former College Plaza Branch location of F&MB. Geo Vista plans to renovate and relocate to that site from its current South Main St. location later in 2016.
The largest new real estate development to open this year was the Hamptons on South Main. The $35 million, upscale student housing development injected 668 new student beds into the student housing mix.
Frontier Communications announced Statesboro was one of 50 finalists who made the cut for their America's Best Cities competition. Statesboro received $50K and now advances to the next round which could bring our community another $100K in early 2016. The grand prize is $3 million.
In technology, we saw the advancement of fiber wars locally with Frontier Communications, Northland Communications, Bulloch Telephone and a new entrant Hargray, invest millions into their infrastructures. These
investments should ensure optimum bandwidth and speeds at competitive prices.
Alltel was acquired by AT&T. Locally the merger of the two companies created some confusion. The end result of the merger has seen a mixed bag of results for local customers.
Dr. Darin Van Tassell stunned the community with the announcement that he was locating a Professional Development League soccer team in Statesboro that will start play in May and be called the South Georgia Tormenta FC. This bold investment solidifies our community as a premier sports destination.
Students and locals alike have embraced the entrance of Uber. The unique transportation network has given us affordable transportation options and have provided extra income for many of our citizens.
Zaxby's came back home, opening an impressive new flagship designed restaurant just steps away from where the company's first restaurant opened 25 years ago.
Baldino's Giant Jersey Subs re-entered the market after being away for nearly three decades. It too is a homecoming of sorts. Statesboro was the first franchise location of the chain.
Established realtor Everett Kennedy rebranded his company from Prudential to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Kennedy Realty.
Optim Healthcare was acquired by National Surgical Healthcare, a Chicago-based owner and operator. They will continue to operate under the Optim name and no changes are expected in our community.
McDougald Oil Company was acquired by Bulloch County Natives Greg Sikes and Chris Thompson. They also purchased Hagin and Olliff Oil Company in 2014 and have merged the two oil companies into Southeast Oil.
New construction continued on the GSU campus. They opened the Shooting Sports Education Center, completed construction of the Student Health Services Center, broke ground on the Military Science Building and announced a Multi-disciplinary classroom. The City Campus is being renovated to accommodate the new Fab Lab that is being constructed on East Main.
My 2016 Crystal Ball Predictions:
Walmart will build a second Neighborhood Market on the west side of town. Kroger and Publix will continue their race to see which one will be the first to re-enter the Statesboro grocery market. We will see movement on one of these this year.
East Georgia Regional Medical Center will announce a major expansion and will continue its focus to recruit talented new physicians into our community. Several local physician groups will break ground on new complexes.
Statesboro will advance to the second round in the America's Best Cities competition. This will continue to jump start the restoration of the Blue Mile project.
Politically, again this year there will be some surprise retirements creating open seats for a few of the most coveted elected offices in the county. Unlike the city elections this year, these races will be hotly contested and, when the dust settles, we will swear in a new generation of political leaders.
The Presidential search at GSU will continue to take many twists and turns. The eventual victor will stun locals and leaders across the state alike.
2016 will prove to be another incredible year full of great success and head scratching events that will continue to make our community a conversation topic of the Southeast.
Here is to a prosperous and profitable 2016!
Please email DeWayne at email@example.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.