Economic excitement

Recent good news for Augusta is as big as all outdoors

One sign that you may be spoiled: if you checked the headlines this past weekend for word of another big store opening.

We couldn’t blame you. The good news just seemed to keep coming last week, as Bass Pro Shops announced Wednesday it will build a store at I-20 and Wheeler Road – and then Cabela’s said Thursday it would build at I-20 and Riverwatch.

That means Augusta is getting nearly 100,000 square feet of indoor space for outdoor enthusiasts.

It means hundreds of jobs.

It means the Village at Riverwatch – which already sports a huge Costco – will not only get a Cabela’s, but also a 14-screen movie theater and dining complex, compliments of Georgia Theatre Co.

It means vitality and tax revenue and economic tourism; in some parts of the country, such stores can be the top tourist attractions.

It means tons of better-dressed, better-equipped out-of-doors aficionados.

This, and more, is what the two announcements mean for Augusta and environs.

More important may be what it means about Augusta.

It means national retailers and others see gold in these hills. They see untapped potential and dormant demand. They see opportunity for growth, additional vibrancy and financial success.

Why, if people from elsewhere see this, shouldn’t we?

Why wouldn’t this be a sign that we need to not just be more positive about our community, but get downright excited about it?

Augusta has long been recognized around the country – notably in surveys and rankings – for being a great place to live, with a terrific climate and an unusually affordable standard of living. Increasing numbers of employers, including ADP and Starbucks, have seen the under-realized value in our work force, location and infrastructure.

In truth, perhaps the only thing holding other similar entities back has been the national economic uncertainties since 2008. Fact is, Bass Pro Shops has had its eyes on Augusta for years – and that’s just one company that we know about. Our specialists in economic development, who consult quietly with business and industry prospects every day, most likely know of many others giving Augusta a look. And there are probably others eyeing the region whom local officials don’t even know about.

Now, with the national economy at least stabilized and intrepid companies looking for opportunities to expand, it only makes sense that the Augusta region is at the top of many lists.

We need to let that color
how we view our hometown. As with folks in most locales, many of us have doubtlessly under-appreciated the homestead all along.

Like the outdoorsmen who will revel in visiting two of the great retailers who cater to their passions, we need to get out more and appreciate what we’ve got here.

While trying not to be spoiled.

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