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Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

City of Abbeville 

Creation of Community Development Department
With its development and tourism functions spread among multiple departments and no single business recruitment and retention strategy in place, Abbeville faced numerous unoccupied buildings in its downtown, and a lack of population growth. The city established its Community Development Department in 2018 to bring together all efforts to promote and cultivate the community. 

The department aimed to modernize communications with residents and visitors, establish dedicated grant writing and economic development staff positions and centralize the special event management process. About two-thirds of the department’s budget is now paid through its own revenues, with another 22% paid with hospitality funding. 

The department brought in nearly $7 million in grants for infrastructure and historic preservation and disbursed nearly $110,000 in small business grants. It also improved the professionalism and data tracking of its special events. The department’s efforts have contributed to a 15% increase in downtown occupancy, with 15 new businesses opening in 2021. 

Contact Austin Walker at or 864.828.1796.

City of Bishopville 

Bishopville Historic District Redevelopment Project 
Seeking to remove dilapidated buildings along the railroad and remodel its historic railroad depot, the City of Bishopville obtained a long-term lease with the railroad companies owning the properties to work on the revitalization project. The redevelopment effort also included the installation of parking, sidewalks and lighting to encourage more pedestrian traffic in the downtown, all while making the northern entrance of the downtown more attractive.  

Councilmembers from the City of Bishopville and Lee County worked with the county’s legislative delegation to obtain $450,000 in state funds for the project. TheLINK Economic Development Appliance of Lee and Sumter counties helped obtain another $450,000 from the SC Department of Commerce. The refurbished depot will host a farmers market and outside social events. 

Contact Gregg McCutchen at or 803.229.5307. 

City of Conway

Employee Mural Project 
Conway’s Employee Mural Project tackled two challenges: cultivating downtown public art on a limited budget, and improving the appearance of a highly visible building. The city decided to use a prominent building for a paint-by-numbers mural designed and painted by city staff. Ultimately the project involved 315 staff members working over several weeks. 

The total project cost $2,950, paid for by the general fund, employed a professional to prime the wall. 

The project proved to be engaging for the community. Since the mural’s subject matter was not initially apparent, news media and observers speculated about what the mural would depict. Employees were given time during work hours to paint the mural, but many volunteered their free time as well, and have expressed pride about their contributions to the final product. The downtown’s various city-commissioned murals have inspired the private sector to add their own murals throughout the city. 

Contact John Rogers at or 843.248.1760.

City of Fort Mill

Second Saturday Service Initiative
During the pandemic, Fort Mill officials noticed a dramatic increase in litter along roadways and other areas. The town launched a volunteer program to collect litter and inspire residents to restore the town’s green and public spaces.

Through the program, volunteers went out on the second Saturday of the month from April to October 2021 to collect trash. The schedule of early Saturday mornings improved safety since it limited the amount of traffic that volunteers encountered. 

The town used general fund money to pay for gloves, safety vests, trash bags, safety sheets, and town-branded items as thank-you gifts. It also encouraged participants to post cleanup photos with the hashtag “#PickItUpPrideFortMill.” A pledge card wall at town hall also highlighted the names of volunteers pledging to keep Fort Mill clean. 

In 2021, the program brought together 162 volunteers collecting 137 bags of trash. Because of the program’s popularity, the town brought it back for 2022.

Contact Christopher Sardelli at or 803.992.0021. 

City of Fountain Inn 

Fountain Inn’s Parade of Heroes
The City of Fountain Inn partnered with the Fountain Inn Museum to honor local veterans by establishing the Parade of Heroes display in its downtown. The donation-funded project featured the photos of 31 veterans on banners.

The museum handled photo submissions from loved ones and displayed the uniforms of many of those honored. The project collected oral histories of the veterans’ stories. In the case of J. Lynn “Snab” Stenhouse Jr., the only known Black veteran from Fountain Inn to die in service, a digital artist converted a low-resolution image from a newspaper into an image that could be placed on a banner. Funded by the community, the only known photo of Stenhouse was preserved for posterity. 

The project generated media coverage and foot traffic. Streetscape improvements are planned to double the number of pole banners in 2022. 

Contact Kate Kizito at or 864.399.2781.

City of Goose Creek

John McCants Veterans Park 
As a rapidly growing community, Goose Creek sought to meet its expanding recreation needs through the development of its Veterans Honor Plaza, which is aimed at providing recreation and ceremonial space for historically underserved groups. 

The facility replaced a dilapidated baseball complex and honors the many veterans of Goose Creek, including its first Black city councilmember, John McCants, and the city’s only Vietnam War casualty, USMC Pfc. Larry R. Gourdine. The Veterans Honor Plaza allows residents to purchase bricks and temporary banners dedicated to the veterans in their families.

The $2.5 million park, paid for with the city’s recreation fund, features a playground, athletic field, trails and a pavilion. Responding to significant demand, the park also includes a dog park. 
Even before its Veterans Day dedication, the park drew crowds. Ideas for future developments range from monuments, public art and additional recreation equipment. 

Contact Frank Johnson at or 843.797.6220 x1113. 

City of Greenville

Shop Downtown Campaign
Seeking to support downtown Greenville’s small and independent businesses after the economic downturn of the pandemic, the City of Greenville’s Economic Development and Communications departments, as well as Visit Greenville SC, the city’s destination marketing organization, partnered to create a “Shop Downtown” campaign. 

The initiative included print, digital and social media marketing as well as window clings for vacant storefronts. The effort also included a purpose-made logo featured on giveaways from canvas bags to tumblers. The city recruited dozens of businesses to participate in a gift card program, which continues to be used in promotions. 

Funding came primarily through the city’s operating budget, as well as $25,000 in online advertising from Visit Greenville SC. Social media giveaway posts accounted for many of the city’s most engaging posts for the year, and grew the city’s social media audience. Merchants reported increased traffic to their stores, websites and social media. 

Contact Michael Frixen at or 864.467.5700. 

City of Greer 

CenterG: Igniting an Economic Engine in Downtown Greer
When Greer CPW needed to dig up streets in the central business district to replace aging utility lines, the city seized the opportunity to completely rebuild a dated streetscape with an appealing, accessible design. This project took seven years of planning and 36 months of construction. 

It created a shared surface concept for the street and sidewalks — a single brick surface that feels inviting for pedestrians while providing parking. The city included LED streetlight improvements and work on a downtown arts center. The first phase included $9 million invested by Greer CPW and funds obtained through Greenville County’s legislative delegation, and the second phase was primarily funded by a general obligation bond. 

Greer aimed to be as supportive to businesses as possible during the disruption, using an extensive communications campaign to stress that businesses remained open and providing shuttles to transport customers. The downtown has improved occupancy and development interest. New public-private investments include a hotel and municipal parking garage.

Contact Steve Owens at or 864.915.6941. 

Town of Hilton Head Island

Lowcountry Celebration Park
As a part of its effort to improve its reputation as a destination and encourage private development, the Town of Hilton Head Island created Lowcountry Celebration Park.
The park offers a lawn that can accommodate festivals, a pavilion stage, the Adventure Playground with a specially designed ship reflecting the history of the island’s discovery, and the Sandbox Children’s Museum. Lighted pathways lead to nearby shopping, dining and lodging, and the park’s lagoon mitigates street flooding. The town created a tax increment finance district to fund the $14 million park. 

In the park’s first year, nearby development has included a new hotel and renovation of an existing building, with more development expected. The lagoon has eliminated nearly all nearby flooding. The numerous concerts and festivals attracted to the park’s lawn have helped reduce the overuse of other town parks. 

Contact Chris Darnell at or 843.341.4676. 

Town of James Island

Pet Waste Station Program
James Island residents, aiming to stop dog walkers from using the nearest residential garbage can for their dog waste, or even throwing the waste on the ground, began setting up kitchen trash cans with signs inviting walkers to use them. 

Facing limited staff to address the issue, the town collaborated with the James Island Public Service District on a waste station system. The town installs the stations and provides waste bags, while the JIPSD provides the cans and collects waste on their regular routes. The town has the cans cleaned quarterly, and the effort also recruits residents to keep the provided waste bags stocked. 

The original eight-station pilot program cost $4,832 annually, and each new station, made of easily available materials, costs about $604. In the first year, the effort removed 3.5 tons of pet waste from the environment, and reduced the area’s water contamination. James Island is now expanding the program and encouraging similar programs for nearby governments. 

Contact Mark Johnson at or 843.795.4141. 

City of Laurens

Welcome Plaza Project 
An aging parking lot at the edge of Laurens’ downtown served as one of the most noticeable features of those traveling into the district. The parking lot lacked shade, accessible parking and proper lighting. The city decided to rebuild it into a Welcome Plaza to better accommodate visitors, and to create an environmental focus, both through the installation of two electric vehicle charging stations and the use of sustainable, long-lasting paving materials. 

The project also featured brighter and more durable LED streetlights, and incorporated brick into the paving to match the downtown’s historic look. It received funding from the city’s budget, donations and a grant from the state’s Park and Recreation Development Fund. 
The city now plans to update other parking lots in the downtown, and evaluate other infrastructure to determine if it can improve accessibility for visitors and residents. 

Contact Eric Delgado at or 864.872.2202. 

Town of Lexington

The Icehouse Amphitheater Pavilion
After Lexington opened the popular 900-seat Icehouse Amphitheater in 2016, it intended to sell a high-visibility outparcel to a developer. The parcel’s size and topography made it unfeasible for private development, so town council decided to develop the Icehouse Amphitheater Pavilion on the site. 

Paid for with development impact fees, as well as some hospitality tax funds and bonds, the facility provides a setup space for vendors during concerts, and a permanent home to the town’s farmers market. The pavilion offers fans and heaters, and thanks to its electrical connection, it can accommodate food trucks without any need for generators. 

The facility has become one of the latest symbols of an increasingly revitalized and thriving downtown. The farmers market has extended its hours, and the pavilion has hosted a popular two-day Christmas Market. Another outparcel at the amphitheater site has been bought by a developer to become a new restaurant and retail establishment, with additional plans to increase parking capacity. 

Contact Laurin Barnes at or 803.600.2533. 

Town of Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant’s Organic Turf Management Program
The Town of Mount Pleasant sought to address resident concerns about the environmental impacts of synthetic turf management products, by setting setting strict environmental goals for itself. The town developed an organic turfgrass management program, using the Carolina Park Recreational Complex, Pitt Street Bridge Park and Alhambra Hall venue as test sites. The program eliminates the need for pesticides by using soil biology management — the cultivation of beneficial microorganisms — to create healthy turf that is resistant to disease and insects, and reduces the need for products containing carcinogens.  

Staff began the pilot program aiming to expand it to all town facilities. Thanks to the cooperation of residents and organics companies, the testing phase did not require funding, and expansions in the program will receive general fund dollars. The program will next receive $300,000 for landscape maintenance and supplies, and then an annual budget cycle of $40,000 for equipment and $20,000 for irrigation. 

 Contact Martine Miller at or 843.884.8517. 

City of Simpsonville

Simpsonville Arts Center
The historic downtown Simpsonville Elementary School, built in 1939, stood empty for nearly two decades after its closure in 2002. After the City of Simpsonville bought it and spent years assembling funding from a variety of sources, it transformed the building into a new arts center that can serve as an economic and cultural boon for years to come.

Renovations include an upgraded auditorium with updated plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, as well as new lighting and sound systems. A $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission jumpstarted the project, which also received funding from hospitality and accommodations taxes, and even a $75,000 contribution from a state lottery winner who won $1 billion in Simpsonville. 

The local theater group, the Mill Town Players, has committed to a lease in which it will produce five seasons of shows at the new facility. The city also plans to lease space to artists, art teachers and others, and plans to hire a director for the Arts Center. 

Contact Dianna Gracely at or 864.967.5404.  

Town of Summerton

Dirt & Skirts
Lacking a grocery store and identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a food desert, the Town of Summerton partnered with the Summerton NAACP to create “Dirt & Skirts,” a series of pop-up, drive-through farmers markets. The project aimed to bolster South Carolina farmers while also giving the Summerton area’s consumers access to locally-grown produce, meats and other foods. The events also include a free mobile clinic to provide primary health care services. 

Funds for the efforts have come from Summerton’s civic groups, individual donations and the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce. The project aims to contribute to some of the goals outlined in the Summerton Comprehensive Plan, which envisions the development of new housing, dining, retail, offices and public spaces.  

Contact Cedric Liqueur at  

City of West Columbia

Communications Blitz
After the closures and disruptions of the pandemic in 2020, the City of West Columbia undertook a multifaceted communications campaign to highlight everything the city has to offer. Armed with a newly created brand, the city launched projects including the Real Faces/WeCo Places campaign, telling the stories of local entrepreneurs on pole banners that featured QR codes leading to online content about local businesses. The city also produced “Public Works of Art,” a campaign that wrapped sanitation trucks with the works of local artists. 

The city upgraded its website and launched the WeCo Info app, which connects users with the city’s sanitation schedule, offers reminder notifications for sanitation routes, recycling information, as well as city news and special events. It also allows users to report issues to the city. 

The city funded the campaigns through hospitality tax funding. In measuring its success, the city reported a 25.3% jump in social media engagement, email list growth, and even an increase of 199 new businesses from 2020 to 2021. 

Contact Anna Huffman at or 803.309.8638.