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Growth creates strong economic position for Bulloch

Synovus financial expert Cal Evans provided a look at the U.S. economy and how Statesboro and Bulloch County compares. In his annual economic forecast, he said the future economically is very bright for Bulloch. Click on the picture to read more and view Evans's presentation.
Cal Evans, Senior Director of Investor Relations and Market Intelligence for Synovus

In business and in life, it is often said that if you are not growing, you are dying. Bulloch County's continued growth has helped insulate our community from much of the economic turbulence other communities have experienced. This growth, which comes with its challenges, has positioned Bulloch County and our region to an envious position of having a very strong local economy. 

Cal Evans, Senior Director of Investor Relations and Market Intelligence for Synovus, led business leaders through what has become an annual presentation on how our local economy is doing comparatively and what the future holds. The presentation was held Thursday morning, April 11, 2024 in the Bruce Yawn Community Room at Synovus bank in Downtown Statesboro.

Ryan Quick, Synovus Commercial Banker, introduced Evans and welcomed business leaders to the presentation. Quick said this is one of his favorite presentations annually.

Among Synovus Leadership in attendance were Darron Burnette, Synovus Divison CEO, and Chad Wiggins, Synovus Market President for Statesboro.

"Part of the strength of Synovus is having great people here locally that serve our clients faithfully day in and day out. Another great part is having resources like Cal Evans to bring insight and knowledge to our communities," said Chad Wiggins, Market President, Synovus Statesboro. "He and his team work to gather data throughout Synovus’s footprint to give our company insight on how our clients are doing financially and what industry sectors are performing well or may not be performing as well. Our goal at Synovus is to be the best advisor we can to our clients. Cal coming to our market and sharing his knowledge and insight is an important part of us working to create value for our clientele."

In the hour long presentation, Evans went through historical financial data to provide a picture of how the U.S. and Georgia economy are doing overall and how our region is doing in comparison.

You can view Evans's slide presentation by clicking here.

Business leaders attending the Synovus presentation. DeWayne Grice

One of the big questions on everyone's minds was his opinion on whether or not the Fed will cut rates. He believes that we will see 2 to 3 cuts, probably over the summer.  

"There are a a lot of good things going on, and a rate cut would be a huge win to consumers psychologically," Evans said. "Housing prices and gas prices are the two key drivers of inflation. We can't do much about gas prices, but we can with housing. The lack of affordability of housing and super high mortgage rates are two areas that can be addressed. When you remove housing prices and gas prices, it is a much better story."

Evans used a lot of different sources for the data in his presentation. The one set of proprietary data he used was taken directly from Synovus customers. Through customer surveys, they can get a real time feel of what business leaders are thinking, and through actual account data, they can look at flows of revenue and expenses.  

Synovus customers surveyed across the Synovus footprint are optimistic about the current business environment and even more optimistic about the future.

Bulloch consistently outperforms

Over the past decade that Evans has been presenting in Bulloch, he said that our community always outperformed other communities our size. Much of this is because we are fortunate to have major economic hedges. One of the biggest has been and continues to be Georgia Southern University's economic impact.

"Just in the past decade, the impact that I have seen with the growth of GS that has led to an influx of students, which has driven the total redevelopment of the campus area," said Evans. "The student housing build has been phenomenal, and along with it all, the supporting elements that have followed, including restaurants and service industry growth."

The proximity to Savannah and the Ports are equal drivers of our economy. Because of the infrastructure improvements to the Ports and Savannah area, our region was able to land Hyundai.  

"What is happening here is impressive, and many other communities are very envious. With a strong anchor in a major, growing university that is Georgia Southern, to the fact that you have pulled in a major auto manufacturer with Hyundai and the host of suppliers in at a time when manufacturing overall is down is very impressive," said Evans. "These difficult decisions that have been made by local political leaders to land Hyundai and the investment by citizens through taxes might be painful now, but in the next few years, this investment will pay great dividends not just economically, but also through vast quality of life improvements."

These investments will continue to build an even stronger hedge against future economic downturns, allowing Statesboro and Bulloch County to prosper when other communities may be suffering.

Evans explained that much of what Bulloch County is experiencing now with the pains of growth was experienced in LaGrange, GA, decades ago when Hyundai Motor Group opened its first Kia plant in the U.S. Leaders there will tell you now that they never imagined how a project of this magnitude would transform their community. The quality of life impact for all their citizens has been the most pronounced difference, with better schools, improved healthcare options, and a vibrant retail, restaurant, and entertainment scene. The entire market has been lifted, and everyone has benefited.

With a poverty rate of 29% locally, the opportunities created by this strong economic growth can have a very positive impact on the quality of life for so many of our citizens.