2019 Achievement Award winner - City of Seneca
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The City of Seneca received a Municipal Achievement Award for its downtown Jazz on the Alley event. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Annual Meeting on July 20. The city won in the public service category. Twenty-nine cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.

 As a city event, Jazz on the Alley shared the same goals as many downtown concert events when it was first created in 2010. After years of disinvestment in the historic downtown, planners wanted to provide a reason for local residents and tourists alike to come downtown, stimulate local businesses and change perceptions of the district.

The event, which takes place every Thursday night from April to October in Ram Cat Alley, has grown into something with a wider mission in the years since it started — it now provides a forum for local nonprofit and charitable organizations to advocate for their causes and pull in participation from the community.

Examples include the Foothills Alliance, which offers prevention, intervention and support services to survivors of sexual assault. It hosted the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraiser, in which participants walk a mile in high heels. The Wild Hearts Equine Therapy Center staged a three-day Jazz Fest beginning on Thursday night, allowing them to raise enough money to build a handicapped restroom at their facility.

Jazz on the Alley provides a captive audience for nonprofits that can range from about 500 to 1,000 people. Participation is free for the nonprofits, and the event is funded primarily through hospitality and accommodations tax dollars.

The event has bolstered business development and longer business hours in Ram Cat Alley, now a place of shops, restaurants and even a coffee and craft beer bar. It’s also generated more tourism for Seneca, with an air club flying in for the event and a Corvette club visiting from Kentucky.

“Seneca made Ram Cat Alley into a destination for residents and visitors as well as an event to help local nonprofits,” said Eric Budds, interim executive director for the Municipal Association. 

These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association’s website (keyword: Achievement Awards). 

The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.