• Southern Manor Retirement Inn on Fair Road is undergoing a $700K expansion which includes 12 master suites, state of the art theatre, a second activities center and a solarium. In addition, they will be repurposing existing space for residents requiring specialized memory care services. They are locally owned by Ralph Cowart, Jr. who is a Dually Nationally Board Certified Assisted Living Administrator and Alan Skipper who is Dually National Board Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner. Palmer & Associates is the Architect and CMC Construction is the contractor. The projected completion date is November 20, 2014.
• The one new construction project I am asked about the most is the large building being constructed at 1989 Stambuck Lane, just off the Bypass near Public Storage and The Connection Apartments. This project is being built by developer Hill Gray Seven. I have been holding on this hoping for an announcement from the tenant. According to Drew Hill, they are not ready to make an announcement at this time. he building is permitted as an 11,434 medical clinic.
• The Food Bank, located at the old Julia P. Bryant school on the corner of Stockyard and Donnie Simmons Road, will receive and distribute 40,000 pounds of food from America's Second Harvest this Saturday, May 31. They need 100 volunteers from 8:30 to 2 - to help bag and distribute the food. This is a great opportunity for you to give back to our community. Call Joe Bill Brannen at 489-3663 or 682-4144 if your church or business would like to bring a team. Of course, you can just show up and work as long as you can. I look forward to seeing you there Saturday.
• Farmers Market Vendor of the week: The Herb Lady
One morning entering Statesboro on Highway 301 just past the entrance of Georgia Southern, where the speed limit drops quickly, I was welcomed to town by then rookie Statesboro officer Stan York.
As he greeted me that morning and handed me my "welcome to town" ticket, I noticed his arm patch that read, "The Tourist City." I recall vividly wondering why anyone would come to Statesboro on vacation.
The biggest attraction in town at the time was the "world's worst apple pie" at the now closed Franklin's Restaurant. We were experiencing a tourism lull from the pre I-95 construction hay days. Fast forward 30 years and my how things have changed. Once again Statesboro is on the map as a tourism destination. Helping that effort is Heidi Jeffers, the director of the Statesboro Convention and Visitor's Bureau, which soon will have a new home that will be the centerpiece of South Main Street.
At the Convention and Visitor's Bureau annual meeting last week newly elected president of the Bureau board, Darin Van Tassell, a Statesboro native and owner of the Clubhouse described his early impressions of tourism in the Boro as much the same as mine.
"When we opened Hackers in 1998 our focus was providing a fun outlet to the local community," he said. "I had heard of the SCVB but really had no idea the role they would play in our success. With the construction of the Clubhouse, the addition of the Coca Cola 125 and the world class soccer venue our role in tourism has changed dramatically. I would never consider an expansion of this size, if I did not have a marketing partner like the SCVB."
Bulloch County now boasts 1,051 hotel rooms, most of which are national name brands. Tourism generates more than $120 million annually in direct tourist spending, accounts for 1,007 jobs, generates $4.45 million in state tax revenue and $3.57 million in local tax revenues annually.
In fact, every homeowner benefits directly from tourism in the form of tax relief that amounts to $323 per year. Out of 159 Georgia counties, Bulloch ranks fifth highest in year-to-year tourism growth and we consistently rank in the top 30 counties in tourism spending.
Much of the focus of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau is marketing our community as a tourism destination. Tourism comes in many forms. It may be new parents visiting GSU, alumni attending sporting events, baseball tournaments at Mill Creek, a businessman calling on our community, or someone traveling in for a medical procedure to name a few of the less obvious ones.
The more obvious includes a visit to Splash in the Boro, the Wildlife Center, a tour or event at the Averitt Center, a day on the farm at Hunter Cattle or a visit to the Clubhouse. The SCVB helps them by indirect and direct marketing. An example of the direct marketing is working with venues to put together packages to encourage tourist to come for an overnight stay.
The new GSU Shooting Sports Education Center and the GSU FAB lab downtown are two more great examples of positive growth that will provide additional tourism opportunities with their respective markets in the near future.
There are so many attractions in our community that we take for granted. One great way to check out all the opportunities here and throughout our region is to visit the "Staycation" First Friday event downtown on Friday, June 6.