Bryan has seen an increase in economic activity in the last several years with more businesses entering and restoring empty store buildings and other businesses finding ways to further invest in themselves and the community.
Dustin Schlachter, incoming president of the Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce, wants to keep that momentum going.
“I’m excited about the momentum of this town, this community and the transformations that have happened and all the good will that’s happening with businesses continuing to grow,” he said during the chamber’s recent banquet. “We’re revitalizing downtown, we’re filling up empty factories that have been sitting empty and buildings that have been empty for years... This town is moving, it’s got good momentum. So, momentum is in our favor.”
Schlachter said he was upset when he was voted “most likely to be a Bryanite” in high school.
Now, he he’s proud to live in Bryan.
“I’m proud of all of you and I appreciate the work that all of you do to be a part of that momentum,” Schlachter said. “It started because, at first, I was never going to be a Bryanite. It’s a safe community, it’s a good place to raise kids.”
Chamber Executive Director Dan Yahraus and 2023 Chamber President Doug Hanna also discussed the growth in the community in the last several years.
One big change to come later this year is the revitalization of the former Orchard Hills Country Club into Cattle Creek Winery.
“I got to see it last week, it’s amazing and it will blow you away when you get to see it,” Yahraus said, likening it to the transformation of Father John’s Microbrewery.
He has always been excited to see transformations, and last year saw several building rehabilitations started or completed.
All the activity, he added, should make people smile.
“Many people are continuing to invest in Bryan,” he said. “There’s the Williams County Community Theater Building. The north side of the square, the buildings owned by Dave Swanson (are being renovated). The former eye center is now Fearfully Made Boutique.”
Several other projects downtown include the renovation of a building into an ice cream shop and the replacement of windows at the Williams County Courthouse.
Those are only some of the investments and changes made in recent years, Yahraus said.
Hanna said five years ago he was discouraged with the state of Bryan.