This past weekend, I attended the annual Bulloch County community leaders retreat held on St. Simons Island. The gathering was a brain storming session involving elected officials, public officials, school, technical college, and university officials as well as business leaders.
Coordinated by the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce and the Bulloch County Development Authority, the mission of each year’s meeting is to look ahead five to ten years and see what has been accomplished to meet the needs of our community today. One must envision what those needs are, make an action plan to address them, and then delegate who is responsible for accomplishing those steps.
There were a lot of people there coming from very different perspectives that ultimately agreed on some core issues and concerns. In my opinion, the areas of need targeted by the group were right on the money.
The first priority was to continue to promote and seek industrial development. The second was to look at ways to streamline city and county government services to achieve efficiencies to help offset increasing operational costs such as fuel and health insurance for employees. Another priority selected addressed continued efforts to attract retail development.
About now, you are probably thinking, blah, blah, blah. We have heard it all before. However, when these issues were brought forth and hashed out, some real action plans were developed and timelines set.
An example of that is the “retail” group that I was part of. That was of particular interest to me, because of the incredible interest in our community as it pertains to what new retail is coming to Statesboro.
Statesboro is in sort of a funny position because we serve as a retail “hub” attracting residents from a number of neighboring communities. However, our census numbers do not reflect those people that come here to shop.
National retailers have told me that our population numbers aren’t quite high enough to meet their minimum demographic. When you try to explain to them that our retail serves more than just Bulloch County residents, you get the Cuba Gooding, Jr. “show me the money,” or more to the point, prove it.
Somehow, we need to be able to substantiate that claim through a credible and unbiased study, not by taking pictures of license plates at Wal-Mart. (Yes, I do know of a developer that took license plate pictures and used them in his sales pitch to national retailers he was trying to bring to Statesboro.)
This is just a very small example of the ideas and plans that were put forth at the meeting. There were many very busy people that agreed to take on additional “work” in an effort to achieve the goals that were set.
This is the only one of these meetings that I have ever been to, but I took great comfort in knowing that there are people in our community that are willing to serve and sweat without glamour or recognition. They just want to make a great place better. And for me, that was worth the trip.
Until next week, I bid you au revoir.Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org