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From the chairman's desk: Big business will come, but we've got plenty of options now
Carter Infinger
Carter Infinger is chairman of the Bryan County Commission.

We hear the word “growth” quite often in Bryan County and, for the most part, that’s a good sign. Our community is ideal enough, our schools are strong enough and our local economy is thriving enough that many folks have chosen to make Bryan County their home. As our populations grows, it prompts expansion in other areas as well, such as new business.

We’re proud of all the hard-working local business owners in Bryan County, from clothing boutiques to restaurants to service providers, such as lawyers, accountants and bankers. Their contributions to this community are wonderful, and I’m grateful for the sacrifices made by these business owners. They surely are owed our support.

I hear from time to time – and, more often lately – that we “need” more large retail businesses, places like shopping malls, Target and movie theaters. It’s true our population is growing and the county and the development authority do work hard to bring new business and industry here, but there are some companies that just aren’t ready to locate in Bryan County.

When deciding where to open new stores and restaurants, large chain corporations use location analytics, industry analyses, market research and population studies to make decisions. It isn’t always enough that a population is growing. Development of this nature takes time and does not happen overnight. We’d like to see our county become home to some big-name brands, but that’s likely not going to start happening until we have the population to support it.

Once our new Interstate 95 exchange at Belfast Keller is complete, I think we can expect to start seeing some nice growth in that area. We don’t know yet what kind of establishments will be drawn to the area, but at least we’re putting the pieces in place. Our citizen base is rising, we’re getting the infrastructure in place and much is being done to make it obvious that Bryan County is a great place to do business.

For this reason – and a litany of others – we always stress the importance of our comprehensive land-use plan, which stretches 15-20 years into the future. For Bryan County to attract the kinds of businesses our residents want to see, we need to continue the growth path we’re on, plan for the future and be patient. That kind of development takes time. And once it starts, things usually move quickly.

Take neighboring Pooler or Hinesville, for example. Once a handful of businesses get wind of a hot new location, it doesn’t take long for others to start noticing and making their own plans. The process of getting those first few companies to give an up-and-coming city a chance, though, can be long and a little exhausting.

I have no doubt that Bryan County will get there eventually, but for the time being, we’ve got plenty to offer our residents right here and now. Our dining options, retail establishments and leisure offerings are very impressive for a county of this size, and I highly encourage everyone to go out and take advantage of them. The stronger our economy and the bigger our population, the better we look to larger businesses looking to branch out.

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