Statesboro places in America’s Best Communities contest

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Taisha White and Tandra Smith

Statesboro is the third place winner in the America’s Best Communities contest, sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH, CoBank and The Weather Channel, beating out over 50 other communities since the beginning.

Statesboro was the few communities in the south and ultimately became the only state in the Southeast to advance to the final round.

America’s Best Communities

The America’s Best Communities competition began in September 2014 when they began taking applications from cities all across the country. After the deadline in March of 2015, around 50 quarter finalists were chosen about a month later.

According to the America’s Best Communities’ website, winners at this stage received $35,000 to kickstart their community plan. In the semi-finalist round, though no money was awarded, the winning communities were invited to a summit put on by America’s Best Communities to present their plans to a panel of judges, with accommodation and airfare included.

In the final round, eight finalists (including Statesboro) were awarded $100,000 to continue formulating their plans. Finally, in the winner round, which was on April 17, the top three finalists were awarded either $1 million for third place, $2 million for second place or $3 million for first place, depending on where they placed.

In addition to winning $1 million for the Blue Mile, Statesboro will also receive an outdoor mural of the city as well as a sign that displays Statesboro as one of the America’s Best Communities winners.

Blue Mile History

The money that Statesboro won will be going to the Blue Mile, a project dedicated to connecting Georgia Southern University to downtown Statesboro. Back in 1803, when downtown Statesboro was first founded, it was just a commercial area surrounded by railroad tracks.

The area was named the number one industry and economic driver. Still there was need to fill in the gap between GS and the community.

Thus comes in the Blue Mile idea. As Community Leaders in the Statesboro-Bulloch County area came together to address the needs for the community, they felt that there was need to restructure South Main Street, including the one mile that is the starting point.

Around 2012, community leaders, including those of the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners and the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority began their first steps into restructuring South Main Street in hopes to bringing some sort of economic growth to the area, including pairing up with GS to include student perspective on the need to restructure the area.

“The city’s strategy aims to reclaim the area as a safe, desirable place to live, regain its economic health and restore its historic identity,” the America’s Best Communities website said.

Recently, there has been much development along the Blue Mile, including a number of new buildings, such as Little Italy, located at 450 S. Main St. This restaurant was one of many along the mile to host watch parties as the results came in.