While the overall image of Grayson County may seem like it looks the same as it did at the beginning of 2018, it is not. Over the past year this area has seen a lot of growth, with changes that are going to push the overall economic landscape of the region into the future.


The first thing that the Sherman Economic Development Corporation did in 2018 was sell the Blalock Park Fire Station No. 4, with plans to move the operation into Progress Park. Since the station’s move, Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille was allowed to begin construction on its Sherman facility.


The building broke ground in June, and the 72,995-square-foot facility is set to open in mid May. As of December 2018, the exact number of jobs the company would be hiring for was not known, but there are expected to be full-time and part-time positions available to area residents.


“Because of the expansive size, you have a lot of different elements in it — from either ropes course, rock climbing wall, a roller coaster inside,” developer Mark Schulman said in June. “There’s possibilities of all those.”


Beyond the Sherman entertainment possibilities lie the developments brewing along US Highway 75 in Denison. The Denison Development Alliance has been working to make the area attractive to venues looking to provide offerings for family fun.


Due to weather, HeyDay Entertainment has pushed its opening date back to summer 2019. The 43,000-square-foot facility, to be located at the juncture of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 691, plans to house a bowling alley, a ropes course, outdoor mini golf, a restaurant and more.


“I hope you realize that we realize how awesome your community is,” owner Brad Little said while fighting back tears during the entertainment center’s announcement presentation at the end of 2017.


Little said the location will be designed to cater to the entire family with areas designed for children and adults.


The chain of entertainment venues started in 2007 with the opening of its Norman, Oklahoma, location, which was expanded in 2010. This was followed up with the opening of a second location in Oklahoma City.


And just next door, Urban Air will be setting up shop in Denison. Announcing plans for the 30,000-foot indoor trampoline park in November, the entertainment portions of Grayson County will be seeing new faces all in 2019.


“We know families are looking for ways to spend time together — and the more active the experience, the more memorable,” Michael Browning, CEO and founder of Urban Air, said in a press release issued at the end of November 2018. “Parents want their kids off their phones, giving them less ‘screen time,’ and more time to play and engage with other kids their age the old-fashioned way.”


Beyond the new recreational and entertainment attractions, both Sherman and Denison have and will soon be opening new restaurants and establishments.


TRY Incubator plans to open early in 2019 at 507 W. Main Street in Denison. The facility will have six stations where restaurants will share public space and be able to present varying cuisines to the residents of downtown Denison.


“We are trying to give multiple prospective restaurateurs a chance to gain exposure and experience in our downtown,” developer Josh Massey said in 2018.


The developer has said he plans to put $600,000 into the project.


“Many people see the Food Network, and it makes them dream of owning their own restaurant while they do not know anything about daily operations,” Grayson College Culinary Arts Program Executive Chef Joanna Bryant said about the opportunity that the shared restaurant space will bring to the area.


Over in Sherman, the new high school is taking shape. The ground breaking for the facility was held in October, and the 450,000-square-foot campus is set to be complete and open for classes in the fall of 2020.


“It’s exciting because of the impact that the school will have on the entire community, certainly on the educational experiences of our students for generations to come, but also through the economic impact that the construction of a school this size has on the community,” Sherman Independent School District Superintendent David Hicks said at the event.


With budding projects breaking through the horizon, both Sherman and Denison chambers of commerce honored business owners at awards luncheons.


At the event held in November, Denison honored Classic of Texoma as its large business of the year and Best Burger Barn as its small business of the year. Shelly Kisel accepted the award on behalf of her husband. Paul Kisel was awarded the memorial volunteer of the year award. In the future, the award will also be named after him.


Also at the event, the new chamber motto was unveiled, “Simplify. Reinvent. Unify.”


Chamber President Diana Theall said other moves by the group will be aimed at increasing the value businesses get out of their membership through networking opportunities and other activities. Other ideas include featured member luncheons where representatives gather to discuss their businesses and give feedback.


“We have to show how the Chamber will help grow their businesses,” Theall said.


At a similar event in January, Sherman named Knight Furniture as small business of the year and Bob Utter Ford, Lincoln and Kia was named the large business of the year. Shawn Teamann was named the community leader of the year.


During the event, the Sherman mayor announced that Sherman added 900 news jobs in 2018 and $287 million of new property was added to the city limits.


“People want to see a community that is united and cohesive that plans well,” Sherman Economic Development Corporation President Kent Sharp said. “That is exactly what you have here in Sherman.”