Growth Ain't No Joke Here
Most of you parents have driven down Jackson Avenue in Oxford, right? Well – imagine that long stretch of road being only two lanes. That’s how it was when I started school here in the Fall of 2001. Wal-Mart was a “brown Wal-Mart,” fraction of the size it is now and was located across from campus by the movie theater. There were absolutely no chain restaurants. Chik-Fil-A, Home Depot, Walgreens - nope. As a matter of fact - there were only a handful of places to eat and shop. If we wanted to have soup, salad and breadsticks from Olive Garden, we drove to Tupelo. If we wanted to shop at Old Navy, Marshall’s or a chain department store, we drove to Memphis. If we needed something from a hardware store that Sneed’s didn’t carry, we ran to Lowe’s in Batesville.
I moved away after college for just a little more than two years (2006-2008) and when I returned, I hardly recognized my little college town! I felt like I had to relearn everything and adjust my expectations and thoughts about having to travel out of town to purchase things once unavailable in Oxford.
Fast-forward ten years, and WOW! I know Oxford seems small to you parents that hail from big cities, but it feels like a booming metropolis compared to the town I moved to 17 years ago! There are hundreds of statistics and charts available online if you research the data on Oxford growth over the years, but I just wanted to share the story of Oxford growth from my perspective.
Each year more students are sticking around Oxford after they graduate or returning to this spectacular little dot on the map after a short time away, like I did – finding any way to be back in “Mayberry.” The growth can also be quantified by the mere fact our K-12 schools have grown more than 25% in less than 10 years and Ole Miss enrollment has increased by nearly 20 percent since 2012. Oxford also dotes the “Top College Towns to Retire” by Kiplinger Magazine. There is a huge community of retirees in Oxford that have chosen to spend their golden years here; attending Ole Miss athletic events and the plethora of shows at the Ford Center, among other activities. In addition to a place to retire, if the time comes we have a super fab assisted living center, The Blake that opened only three years ago.