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Taking a look at 2017 business highlights
Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice
Grice-H-DeWayne Web
DeWayne Grice

Yes, 2017 was another banner year for Statesboro and Bulloch County businesses. Let's take a look back at a few of the highlights:


Synovus, the parent company of Sea Island Bank in Statesboro and Savannah, promoted Darron Burnette to Synovus Division CEO. Darron's responsibilities expanded to leading Synovus operations throughout southeast Georgia and the northeast Florida region, which includes Sea Island Bank. Chad Wiggins was promoted to Market President for Statesboro. As Market President, Chad is leading Sea Island Bank in Statesboro day-to-day. Chad previously served as a Sea Island Bank commercial banking manager. Synovus Chairman/CEO Kessell Stelling also announced plans to rebrand Sea Island Bank, which was founded in Statesboro in 1901, to Synovus in 2018. Synovus acquired Sea Island Bank in 1991.

Renasant Bank appointed community leader Carolyn Ethridge to Statesboro Market President. In her new role, Ethridge is spearheading Renasant's commercial banking activities in the market and is the bank's lead representative in the community. Assisting Ethridge, Caroline Nelson also joined Renasant as a commercial relationship officer and as a Vice President. Nelson will support the bank through commercial lending and business development.

Bulloch First completed construction on their new Branch in the Market District on the corner of Brampton Avenue and Merchant Way. An innovative banking design brings a new way of banking to Statesboro and Bulloch County. Bulloch First is a division of Citizens Bank of Swainsboro.

AgSouth is nearing completion on their third building downtown which will soon complete the new AgSouth campus. The campus includes the construction of an additional 7,780 square foot building. This new building is being constructed at the back of the property and will include approximately 30 offices and a meeting room available for agricultural and civic club use. The three facilities will be joined together by a green space area between the buildings creating a campus environment. When completed, the complex will encompass nearly 3 acres downtown and house the entire corporate operations for Ag South.


The Statesboro location of Checkers, at 418 Northside Drive East, closed after operating 22 years at that location. Hull Property Group, who Checkers leased the land from non-renewed their lease. Checkers will tore down their structure and continues to look for another location to build a new restaurant. Hull Property Group is building a retail center where Checkers was. It will house the AT&T Store now located behind the original Enmarket and Aspen Dental.

Georgia Power Company (GPC) announced the closure of their remaining 27 customer service offices statewide. This included the Statesboro GPC office at 305 South Main Street.

After operating for 12 years, the Meindhardt family made the very difficult decision to close Miendhardt Winery this year.


Local hotelier Andy Bhula rebranded his LaQuinta Inn, located off the bypass at 225 Lanier Drive, to Eagles Nest Inn. Eagles Nest Inn is not affiliated with any national brand. Instead, it is an independent, boutique concept developed by Bhula. The hotel was originally built by a local hotel investment and management group headed by Doug Lambert as a Fairfield Inn in 1996. Bhula purchased the 63 room Fairfield Inn in 2004 from Lambert's group and rebranded it to LaQuinta. Bhula's three hotel properties in Statesboro have a combined room count of 197 making him the owner of the largest number of hotel rooms in town. He invested nearly $1 million in renovating all three hotel properties in 2017.

Springhill Suites completed $1 million dollars in renovations which included the entire hotel and the conference center. The extensive renovations saw new wall décor, carpet and upgraded bedding in addition to other upgrades.

Construction is underway for Statesboro's newest hotel located off the bypass at 1576 Brampton Ave., behind the Parker's convenience store. The 96 suite hotel includes a nearly $8 million construction investment and will be branded as a Home2 Suites by Hilton. The Home2 is slated to open early 2018. When open, the hotel will employee over 27 full-time workers. The hotel is owned by BPR-Properties. They also own the 90 room Hampton Inn in the Market District.

Statesboro's premier full-service hotel, Holiday Inn, located at 455 Commerce Drive sold this year to LRP Hotels based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. LRP Hotels is a hotel management and development company owned by Roger Patel. LRP Hotels is continuing to operate the hotel under the Holiday Inn banner and does not plan to make many changes in the hotel's successful operations or staff.


Shogun Japanese Steak House reopened in August after it was heavily damaged by fire in 2016. They were closed most of 2017 because of a change in the law that required them to install a $100,000 sprinkler system which delayed their renovations. In addition, they completely renovated the restaurant. Shogun entered the Statesboro market over a decade ago, operating initially on 301 South in the current location of the Boiling Shrimp.

Adam Tsang opened Soyumi (pronounced "So Yummy"). This is his families' newest restaurant in Statesboro. Soyumi is located in the former Carey Hilliard's building at 727 Buckhead Drive. Soyumi offers an authentic Asian menu, from fresh sushi to tuna tataki.

Chicken Salad Chick opened in November. As Georgia's 17th Chicken Salad Chick restaurant, the Statesboro location is a reflection of the brand's continued development efforts and overall success in the region. The new restaurant is located at 430 Northside Drive East in the former Blockbuster Video location behind Chick-Fil-A and Longhorns. It is owned by multi-unit franchisees Tim and Kelly Paslawski of Savannah who also own the Chicken Salad Chick's in Savannah and Pooler.


Ollie's, a value-oriented retailer, opened in August in College Plaza. Ollies was established in 1982 in Harrisburg, Pa. The corporate office remains in Harrisburg where they manage operations of the 250-store chain.


BI-LO introduced its newly remodeled Statesboro BI-LO store to the community at an official grand opening celebration in December. BI-LO completed the major remodel and reset of the store to enhance the shopping experience for customers. The store offers new features and a wider variety of products. The much improved Statesboro store is the first BI-LO in Georgia to undergo a transformation of this kind. BI-LO has been serving the Statesboro area for more than 20 years.


Bryan Darley, owner of Darley Insurance Agency, merged his agency with DeWitt Insurance Agency of Statesboro. The new company is now named DeWitt-Darley Insurance Agency of Statesboro. In 2016 Darley sold his building downtowns which housed Darley Insurance for decades to Ag South.

Blue Mile

Statesboro native and local entrepreneur Josh Whitfield begun what will be the most transformational project yet on the Blue Mile corridor. He has purchased a 5-acre tract of land downtown near the post office that once housed West Building Supply decades ago. Prior to West, there were tobacco warehouses on the site. Named "West District," when complete the site will see the creation of a "Disney-esque" extension of downtown geared to "creative" businesses and will also include residential lofts.

Please email DeWayne at



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