GSU has changed, now it’s the Boro’s turn

Trent Gay

In the last several years, Georgia Southern University has grown, both in enrollment and infrastructure. Enrollment has increased from 16,000 in 2005 to over 20,000 last fall. Southern has continually met the needs of a growing student population by expanding in many different aspects, such as increasing the size of Henderson, to installing campus bus transportation, and now renovating the food courts Landrum and Lakeside. And improvements due to expansion won’t stop anytime soon. In the very near future, we will have a larger Paulson Stadium, a more diverse bus route system, and a modernized Health Services building. Southern has, in one way or another, successfully kept up with the rapid expansion; however, the same cannot be said for Statesboro or Bulloch County.

The two biggest beneficiaries from the growth of Georgia Southern are Bulloch County and Statesboro. One only has to drive around to see the amount of construction occurring and real estate being sold. But unlike Georgia Southern, Statesboro and Bulloch County have struggled to keep up with the student population boom. Some might say the economy could be to blame, but there are plenty of changes that the local government officials could do that will make a big difference to the tax base generated by the student population living in Statesboro.

One of the easiest solutions for bringing more revenue and interest to Statesboro would be allowing traditional bars in the ‘Boro. As of right now, all “bars” have to serve some kind of food. It is my belief that if we made a law allowing for more traditional bars in the ‘Boro, the nightlife would be forever changed, bringing in a more diverse scene for all students. We could also allow liquor sales in Bulloch County. I have never understood the reasoning for allowing business to go to neighboring counties, its revenue and any revenue is a good beneficiary.

As the student population has grown, so has the number of apartment complexes located off campus. One of the biggest negative side effects of this is the population of students without transportation. If Statesboro would enter into partnership with Georgia Southern to bring public transportation to places like the mall, Wal-Mart and downtown, I think local businesses would see an increase in sales.

Over the years Georgia Southern has continually improved its physical appearance. But as you drive around the campus you can’t help but notice apartments and local shopping malls that look unkempt or in disrepair. Statesboro and Bulloch County should implement ordinances requiring better cleaning policies, maintenance practices and fencing.

All of these things will better the life of all Statesboro residents.  Looks do matter, infrastructure for population conveniences matter and quality of life certainly matters. These improvements will catch the eyes of bigger and more popular business, potentially bringing them to Statesboro. Georgia Southern has done so much for the surrounding area, its time for them to step up to the plate and make some changes.  In the short and long run, these improvements will generate more money being spent locally, which is good for everyone.