I-16 Commerce Park renamed in honor of the late Bruce Yawn
Bulloch County’s prepared site for industrial and commercial development at the I-16 interchange on U.S. Highway 301 now has a new name, the Bruce Yawn Commerce Park, County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy announced. Thompson, in front of about 400 people Monday night at JI Clements Stadium.
The event that drew this crowd to the Georgia Southern University baseball stadium in Statesboro was the State of the Area and Trade Expo, where Governor Brian Kemp delivered the commencement address. The Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce hosted the event, which included a small trade show by local exhibitors at the main entrance level before speeches from a field stage, with the board of directors of the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport as Presenting Sponsor and the University as Venue Sponsor.
“It’s an honor to be in Statesboro and to be here on the Georgia Southern University campus and to be able to share all of the great things that we have going on in this state of opportunity,” Kemp said.
He noted that in September he “had the honor to announce that Georgia is again, for the ninth consecutive year, the nation’s top state for business.”
These rankings are taken from the “Top States for Doing Business” reports published annually by the magazine now known as Area Development. The costs of doing business, and therefore elements such as low taxes and electricity costs and generous incentives, are taken into account in the ranking by a panel. Southern states dominated the 2022 rankings, with Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas and North Carolina being the top five.
“It’s people like all of you who help make this possible,” Kemp said to applause. “So amazingly, just a month before this announcement, we celebrated that our state hit a new all-time high in job creation and investment. In 2022 alone, Georgia saw over 51,000 new private sector jobs announced in our state and more than $21.2 billion in investments in our communities.
Jobs outside the metro
More than 74% of those investments will be “located outside of the Atlanta metro area, in communities like Statesboro,” he added. Kemp noted that those numbers only include projects that the state has helped bring to fruition, but not “the many others that we haven’t been involved in.”
Since Kemp took office, more than 137,664 new jobs have been created in Georgia and more than $47 billion in investments have flowed into the state, he said.
“I’m also pleased to share that over the same period, over $325 million in investment has come to Bulloch County alone, and over 14,300 new jobs and $8 billion in investment in this area of the state,” he said.
Kemp noted that more Georgians have jobs than ever before and the state’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low of 2.8%. After hitting that level in August, the state rate remained unchanged in September, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced last week. The national unemployment rate for September was 3.5%, returning to the 50-year low reached in July.
Major electric vehicle projects
“Twice in the past fiscal year, we announced the largest economic development project in state history, first with Rivian and then with Hyundai Motor Group, both of which will invest billions of dollars in our state while creating thousands of new jobs,” Kemp said. .
These two projects are large factories planned to manufacture electric vehicles.
Kemp noted that the next morning — Tuesday, Oct. 25 — he and others in attendance Monday night would take part in the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Hyundai Motor Group plant “just down the road on the Bryan County Mega Site”.
“This economic development initiative alone will create approximately 8,100 jobs in the coastal region through more than $5.5 billion in investments in the coming years,” Kemp said Monday. “And if I have anything to say about that, we’ll see even more historic announcements in the years to come, many of which will be related to this project.”
Bulloch County Commissioner Curt Deal, a friend of the governor and his family, had introduced Kemp as the keynote speaker.
I-16 website update
Before that, Thompson, the chairman of the Board of Commissioners, had taken the stage. He brought shirts with him in a suit bag.
“As we celebrate recent developments in our community tonight and share upcoming opportunities, I would like to share a very special recognition that will mean a lot to all of us, especially me,” he said.
Several years ago, Thompson noted, the county government partnered with the Bulloch County Development Authority, or DABC, to purchase land on Interstate 16 and U.S. Highway 301 South “planned to be the beginning of industrial recruitment on the highway”. The county, he noted, then partnered with the city of Statesboro to extend water and sewer lines to the site.
The county also secured state assistance to modify US 301, including driveways in front of the site, and paved two entrance roads.
“It took time and patience, but now we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor in the engagements,” Thompson said.
Aspen Airgels in February opened a $325 million plant, which is expected to employ more than 250 people, at the site, until now known as Southern Gateway Commerce Park. This month, TravelCenters of America opened a TA Express refueling center at one of the entrances.
Tribute to yawn
As DABC and county officials worked on business park development, a “very important person” was involved every step of the way, from the “city utility conversation” to negotiations with TravelsCenters of America and Aspen Aerogels. , Thompson said.
“Chances are you know him well and have been touched by him in some way in your own life. But tonight, on behalf of the Bulloch County Development Authority and the Board of Commissioners, I have the honor to announce the renaming of the Development Authority Industrial Park on Interstate 16 to Bruce Yawn Commerce Park,” Thompson said, to applause. “Now it’s something else.”
A mock-up of a monument sign bearing the new name appeared on the stadium’s notice board. The sign has not yet been funded or installed.
Yawn, 74, was still chairman of the DABC when he died suddenly of a heart attack on January 20. He also served on the board of Sea Island Bank, and then the local Synovus council that he became, for about 30 years. Since April 2015, Yawn has been Executive Director of Willow Pond Senior Care.
But his first claim to local fame and wide influence was as the owner of Snooky’s restaurant from 1971 to 2012, first with his father, the late Vivian D. “Snooky” Yawn.
“We lost Bruce too soon, earlier this year, but his impact on our lives remains with us every day,” a choked Thompson said. “We hope this recognition will allow us to remember Bruce and his service to our community as Chairman of our Development Authority. We are honored tonight to be joined by many members of Bruce’s family.
His wife Carol, their daughters Nancy and Susan and their son Jeff were among those present.
From the suit bag, Thompson pulled out a t-shirt from another restaurant, owned by a friend, who had it autographed by the late Hank Aaron, the famed record-breaking Braves baseball player. Then he pulled out a Snooky T-shirt, one of two Yawns signed for Thompson and his wife, Deborah, just before the restaurant closed.
He suggested that these mean at least as much to them.