The Statesboro Mayor and City Council heard proposals Tuesday afternoon for several key partnerships and projects during their monthly work session at City Hall.

Below is a summary of topics discussed during Tuesday’s work session. More in-depth coverage will follow in the days ahead. Be sure to follow Grice Connect on social media and subscribe to our FREE daily newsletter for the latest updates.

City considers partnership with GSU BIG for business recruitment

Dominique Halaby | Credit: Bobby NeSmith/Grice Connect Credit: Bobby NeSmith / Grice Connect

In March 2020, it was proposed that the City hire a small business recruiter with the purpose of attracting new small businesses to Statesboro while maintaining and supporting existing ones. No action has been taken on the recommendation, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Tuesday’s work session, Mayor and Council heard from Dominique Halaby, Associate Provost for Innovation and Commercialization at Georgia Southern University, regarding a potential partnership between the City and GSU’s Business Innovation Group (BIG).

In a letter to City Manager Charles Penny, Halaby shared plans to “add a professional staff member to BIG that will be responsible for developing, directing, and coordinating programs to drive new and existing retail and consumer spending businesses within the City of Statesboro.”

Mayor, Council hear proposal for ‘Boro rebrand

Will Ketchum | Credit: Bobby NeSmith/Grice Connect

Will Ketchum, of Jacksonville-based marketing firm North Star, presented his company’s plans for a complete overhaul of the city’s branding strategy.

According to Ketchum, his company “helps communities compete for the future they want” by creating positioning strategies. His proposal on Tuesday outlined plans to engage with local residents, listen to their concerns, and learn the needs of the community to discern Statesboro’s story that is “authentic, distinct, and ownable.”

Ketchum cited overwhelming success in similar municipalities–including Quincy, Illinois, and Fayetteville, North Carolina–as evidence of the positive outcome of streamlined branding. Based on input from several members of Council, the City plans to collaborate with Bulloch County Commissioners, as well as leaders from other city and county organizations, on this project.

Outsourcing agreement a possible solution to building inspector vacancy

Kathy Field | Credit: Bobby NeSmith/Grice Connect

Kathy Field, the City’s Director of Planning & Development, discussed a potential partnership with SAFEbuilt – a Colorado-based company specializing in building inspection services.

According to Field, these services are normally performed by two City employees, but aggressive efforts to fill the vacant positions have proven unfruitful. The annual cost for these two positions, including salary and benefits, totals just over $161,000.

Should the City choose to partner with SAFEbuilt, it could lead to significant financial savings. Field estimates that the City will spend around $100,000 for the company’s services on an as-needed basis. Additionally, the company provides free access to permitting software, which will save the City an additional $20,000 per year.

Planning & Development presents proposed ‘Townhouse Ordinance’

As previously reported on Grice Connect, the City has contracted with TSW to revamp its outdated zoning ordinances. As part of that process, Field presented plans to establish a new townhouse residential zoning district.

Citing recent announcements of planned industrial growth in the area, Field said this amendment will allow for “maximum density” for housing developers.

The proposed zoning amendment also establishes dwelling standards and includes said standards in the City’s planned unit development (PUD) district.

Council hears proposed renovation plans for Joe Brannen Hall, City Hall

Jason Boyles | Credit: Bobby NeSmith/Grice Connect

Assistant City Manager Jason Boyles discussed planned renovations to City Hall as well as a major overhaul to adjacent Joe Brannen Hall – a nearly $1 million project that will repurpose open storage into useable space and provide new offices for the City’s Human Resources and Utilities departments.

A portion of the building will be renovated to become the permanent site of the City’s employee health clinic. Everside Health, the third-party provider that operates the clinic, will inhabit a leased space on Brampton Avenue until the construction project is complete.

Updates to City Hall will include security improvements, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, and modifications to provide additional useable office space and is projected to cost around $700,000. According to Boyles, both projects will be primarily financed by 2019 T-SPLOST funds with the remainder covered by utilities revenue.

Lack of interest sparks proposed amendment to Subdivision Incentive program

In the final presentation of Tuesday’s work session, Boyles presented several proposed revisions to the Residential Subdivision Incentive Program, which has received only one valid application since 2020.

Boyles cites “cumbersome regulations” and increasing construction costs for the lack of interest in the program. Proposed amendments include increasing the incentive amount by $2,000 per lot, adding a provision for up to 20% rental occupancy, and simplify the scoring criteria used to determine eligibility.

In his presentation, Boyles provided examples that showed the projected return on investment to the City. Factoring in the total investment into infrastructure, the City should recoup its money through one-time fees and utilities revenue over a period of six to eight years per completed project.

Bobby NeSmith

Bobby NeSmith is a Bulloch County native who enjoys connecting with our community. He first discovered his love for media at Portal High School and is known for his thoughtful and engaging contributions...