Until recently, the Town of Ridgeway had not changed much in about 50 years. A small, unique community built along a ridge in the 1790s, Ridgeway offered only a few stable businesses in its downtown area. Today, however, Ridgeway residents are hearing their neighboring communities ask, "What’s happening in Ridgeway?"
The town is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to a strategic downtown economic revitalization plan entitled "Ridgeway is En (Entrepreneurial) Business." These days, the population of the town doubles each month, as some 300 to 400 visitors and tourists come to shop, read and dine in Ridgeway’s vibrant downtown area. Where only four stable businesses once existed, there are now 11 downtown businesses and eight on nearby streets. Every downtown storefront is occupied.
That was the simple goal of the town’s strategic plan. Most of the new businesses are entrepreneurial in nature, including the top ranked tearoom in South Carolina. Nine of the businesses are owned and operated by women; the others are family-owned.
With input from residents, many local businesses, and other Fairfield County residents and government officials, the town’s economic development committee put together the plan. A merchants’ association emerged to support event planning, public relations and advertising.
Downtown Ridgeway business owners sponsor events and conduct special sales. Property owners reduced rents and made repairs for new businesses. The town improved the appearance of downtown with fixtures and maintenance. The town also upgraded its website and highlighted businesses in a newsletter.
The physical uniqueness of the town combined with its cleanliness, safety and welcoming environment is serving as a magnet to those who visit and a model for other similar municipalities.
The benefit to residents is clear. Aside from the growing sense of pride in the community, new businesses have meant increased revenue for the town, which helps provide for more services. That, in turn, makes Ridgeway a town where others will want to live and raise their children.
Thanks to a shared vision, a strong partnership between the town and its businesses coupled with a unified community effort, "Ridgeway is En (Entrepreneurial) Business."