Within days of our return from Durham, Statesboro’s team lost a key member to a higher-level position in another city. However, we have been buoyed by increased and widespread engagement from top city representatives to the local historic society and even owners and players of our new pro soccer team. Last week’s stakeholders meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd of Blue Mile business leaders and residents to hear updates and learn about new opportunities for participation. In May, our Chamber of Commerce received a half-dozen inquiries from businesses about opening along the Blue Mile.
Additional attention and resulting growth in volunteers have enabled us to form subcommittees for each significant project in the larger plan.
Constituents are encouraging some additions to the plan, such as a grander archway entrance than was previously envisioned. This is likely to result in higher costs than were considered in our original budget. Leaders and constituents are proactively discussing fundraising and other alternative avenues for funding.
Increased interest from Georgia Southern University, a vital partner since the Blue Mile links downtown Statesboro with the school, has resulted in two noteworthy developments: a director of their marketing team is assisting us in Blue Mile branding and in the creation of a strategic marketing plan; and one of the art faculty is designing the Willie McTell statue. The university’s new president, seated earlier this month, has been aware of our position in the contest and of the greater project. He has already demonstrated a commitment to our program.
The community’s outpouring of support has been phenomenal and not just in feedback but in participation. Unanticipated financial contributions both cash and gifts-in-kind are being offered. Ranging from $800 to $1,000, these gifts from media, private business and civic clubs are encouraging more as a barometer of interest and confidence than for the total in dollars.
It’s encouraging to see #BoroBlueMile everywhere in Statesboro! We are excited about the first couple of months’ progress since Durham and we look forward to the upcoming semester when we can report our ongoing success to new and returning university students.