(To close out the year, we’re counting off five of our most read stories from 2018. Here’s number one. Read two here, three here, four here, and five here. Check back with us for more news in 2019.)

For the second year running, our most read content wasn’t constituted by a single post. instead, it followed a theme: business is booming in Lee County.

Loads of commercial enterprises have either made announcements, begun construction, or opened their doors since last January, and these stories far and away were our most widely read.

Hugger Mugger Brewing opened in January.

In the midst of a January snowstorm, we were able to bring you scenes from the opening of Hugger Mugger Brewing, Sanford first craft beer brewery, and six months able we were able to do the same with Camelback Brewing. It might have seemed hard to believe prior to 2018 that Lee County would have not just one but two craft breweries to call its own, but here we are.

We also brought you news of two new car washes on South Horner Boulevard, as well as news that a Jersey Mike’s and a Sports Clips were on tap for the same area. Then there was the new State Employees Credit Union branch near Lee County High School, and the delicious Chocolate Cellar in downtown Sanford.

And while not exactly a new business, La Dolce Vita Pizzeria opened its new downtown digs in August to great response.

Construction began on the Fairfield Marriott in Northview in November.

Just this month, we brought you the news that Vineland and Hickory, a home decor specialist which opened in May on Wicker Street, will occupy part of the old Big Lots building starting sometime in 2019, and last month we reported that work had begun on the Fairfield Marriott hotel in the Northview area of Sanford.

There’s a brand new FirstHealth medical facility in same area as of October, and the old Ham’s location at Third and South Horner – which had a brief run as Toot’s – is expected to reopen as a location of the small chain Coach’s Neighborhood Grill any day.

Another downtown mainstay, the Steele Pig, closed its doors temporarily in September for an extensive renovation after being sold to new owners in March. Sanford got its first “escape room” back in February, and work is under way on a Harbor Freight Tools on South Horner Boulevard as well.

Sanford is growing, and quickly. We expect even more commercial growth in 2019, and we also hope to look next year at what that kind of commercial growth means for the type of residential growth that could be expected to follow. In the meantime, be sure to support your local businesses, new and old alike.

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