When I entered the University of Georgia in 1980, it was a natural thing to have fellow students and professors ask you where you were from. Of course, I would say "Statesboro," and more times than not, I would be asked where that was.
I would respond, "You know, it's about 50 miles from Savannah, and the home of Georgia Southern College." That would jog some folks' memories, others still didn't know.
As I travel now, that question comes far less often thanks in great part to Georgia Southern's explosive growth and recognition around the state. With its popularity soaring, the administration of GSU is preparing the university for future growth as more and more students from around the state make GSU their first option.
According to Christian Flathman, director of marketing and communications for the university, Georgia Southern has for some time been working to purchase more than 200 undeveloped acres at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Lanier Drive. The $8-million land acquisition will provide additional land for more facilities as the university continues to grow.
"The decision to purchase the property was made specifically with future growth and economic development in mind," Flathman said. "The planned purchase has been public record for some time as it has been on the agenda at the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Georgia Southern has not announced the purchase publicly as it is not yet fully closed."
I am not aware of any plans that have been finalized for the development of the property, although a possible new arena for the university is part of the speculation. Nothing is confirmed.
With the proposed move to FBS football and the subsequent augmentation of Georgia Southern's football facilities and stadium, as well as the recent purchase of the large apartment complex next to the stadium by auxiliary services, it is natural for the university to grow in that direction.
While some may not believe Georgia Southern needs more land for growth, I am reminded in a press release issued by the university two weeks ago about its impact.
According to a study by the university's Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development (BBRED), Georgia Southern drew 163,339 tourists to Bulloch County in 2011. The study also shows that the visitors had an economic impact of more than $47.4 million last year, supported 748 jobs, and generated more than $3 million in state and local tax revenue.
We certainly can't stop people from finding out what we already know - Statesboro is a great place to send your child to college. Therefore, thoughtful preparation for growth is in all of our best interests.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org