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City of Aiken - Aiken Business Coalition Entrepreneurship Program

After the City of Aiken named supporting local entrepreneurs as a goal in its 2021 Strategic Economic Development Action Plan, city officials along with area partners created the Aiken Business Coalition Entrepreneurship Program. Offering business training and as well as access to funding for those who complete the program, the initiative ensures diversity with an emphasis on participation of minority and women-owned businesses.  

The city’s partners for the program include the Aiken Business Coalition, Aiken County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP. During the planning process, these collaborating groups hosted meetings with community members and stakeholders to develop training sessions.  

The program has now trained 75 local business owners and entrepreneurs, with businesses reporting new equipment purchased, strengthened marketing and updated websites. Primary funding for the program came from a $400,000 American Rescue Plan Act allocation and in-kind contributions by local businesses and professionals.

Contact Stuart Bedenbaugh at or 803.642.6754. 

City of Barnwell - Fuller Park Improvement Project 
Like many rural communities, Barnwell lacked amenities for residents and visitors until city council decided to enhance one of its largest greenspaces, Fuller Park. On the city’s list of 1-cent sales tax projects, the Fuller Park Improvement Project added a new splash pad, playground, public restrooms, and more parking to encourage park usage. Barnwell County First Steps and the Barnwell County Library collaborated to install a permanent “story walk” around the park’s walking track to encourage reading.  

Planning began in 2015 with a capital project sales tax referendum and the council’s commitment to upgrade its offerings to children, the residential community and visitors. Staff held meetings with community stakeholders. Multiple community groups came together to realize the project, including Barnwell County, Dominion Energy and others. 

Funding came through the capital project sales tax, the state Park and Recreation Development Fund, local hospitality taxes and American Rescue Plan Act funds. The improved park has increased its usage, attracting young families and visitors to the region. Recent additions include free Wi-Fi and security cameras.

Contact Lynn McEwen at or 803.259.3266.  

City of Charleston - BRIDGE Academy  
With the hiring of a process improvement director in 2006, the City of Charleston aimed to address the lack of data analytics, support employee development and encourage a culture that embraced change. It launched the BRIDGE Academy, or Building Resilient Innovative Data-driven Government Employees Academy, in 2021.  

Inspired by a similar program in Denver, Colorado, city officials worked with consultants to develop a curriculum, making use of an existing professional services contract. While consultants provided the training initially, the program’s success with its first three sets of graduates led the city to transition BRIDGE Academy to an employee-led model.  

The program has helped employees find ways to improve city operations and work across departments. One of its first participants found a process improvement to save about 40 work hours per week and $60,000 in costs each year.  
So far, 93% of the city’s departments have been represented in the program cohorts. The program’s future goals include expanding it to other departments and municipalities for paid participation in order to be financially self-supported.  

Contact Tracy McKee at or 843.834.4658.  

City of Conway - City of Halloween  
Aiming to expand upon and improve its schedule of events, the City of Conway noted that many of its fall events were similar to those found in other communities. City Administrator Adam Emrick invited relevant departments to develop exciting ways to incorporate a Halloween holiday theme into seasonal celebrations while standing out from other cities and towns. 

In September 2022, the mayor of Conway announced that it would change its name to Halloween, South Carolina for the month of October. Coupled with a lively events calendar, the name change added to Conway’s reputation of extensively decorating for the holiday. The project aimed to increase spending in the downtown area as well as the city’s social media and online visibility. Schools, churches, the Chamber of Commerce, Conway Downtown Alive, and other organizations came together to realize the project. Funding for events and decor came from hospitality taxes. 

The name change caught media attention from statewide and national outlets. It led to increased downtown foot traffic and greater restaurant revenue, and the city now plans to make the name change a regular feature each fall.  

Contact John Rogers at or 843.248.1760.

Town of Edisto Beach - Wastewater Treatment Plant Pump Station B and Pump Station A Construction and Repair  
Edisto Beach undertook a multi-phase project to repair its sewer system, including its wastewater treatment plant, and increase efficiency. In need of updating, the system’s six-inch force main was insufficient for the high volumes of water flow it was receiving, which posed sanitation and environmental problems.  

Town officials, staff and professionals devised a plan to address the problem, resulting in council approving a temporary moratorium on new connections to the system to grant it time for study and evaluation, and to facilitate repairs. The project used funds from the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority and a local match by the Town of Edisto Beach, which allowed for the project’s first phase — new construction and repair at Lift Station B.  

Once both pump stations have been upgraded, the town will lift the connection moratorium. System upgrades will make sure the town is operating a safe and efficient system that is compliant with all standards and codes.  

Contact Mark Aakhus at or 843.869.2505.  

City of Greenwood - Retail Recruitment and Retention Program  
Seeking to understand its business environment and attract new retailers, the City of Greenwood established a Retail Recruitment and Retention Program to identify, record, and market available commercial properties to potential tenants. The program used consultants to handle property inventory, assessment and marketing strategy, and the city also took advantage of the Municipal Association of SC’s Retail Recruitment and Training Program, which allowed staffers to further their knowledge of the retail recruitment process.  

The city established the program through the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, and has since built it into Greenwood’s Economic Development general budget. City officials attended the International Council of Shopping Centers trade show and made valuable connections to retailers, developers and other professionals.  

In its analysis, the city discovered that there were actually not as many available development properties as originally thought, with many already in some stage of development. The effort has therefore evolved into establishing priority development zones with development incentives, such as the corridor between Uptown Greenwood and Lander University.  

Contact Lara Hudson at or 864.942.8448.  

Town of Hilton Head Island - Hilton Head Island Lantern Parade  
Looking for creative ways to incorporate the Town of Hilton Head Island’s values of protecting its environment, respecting its cultural heritage and supporting its family-friendly atmosphere, city officials created the Hilton Head Island Lantern Parade. An annual, free community-engagement event, the parade brings together demographically diverse community members to celebrate the island, its people and its ecology through special-made lanterns. 

The town’s Office of Cultural Affairs enlisted the local Arts Council to garner participation from diverse community organizations as its partners to help in the planning, marketing, and operating of the event. The parade has become a popular tradition, and the 2022 event saw participation from 1,000 community members marching past 4,000 spectators. 

The parade is supported by town funds, grants, corporate sponsorships, in-kind donations and nonprofit partnerships. To help participants with costs, the town donates lantern-making supplies to schools and organizations. The Breeze, the local transit provider, donates trolley shuttles to bring participants from the town-owned parking lots, and town’s operating fund supports the fees of professional artists for the larger lanterns.  

Contact Natalie Harvey at or 843.341.4703.  

Town of Hollywood - Serenity Park Safety Improvements  
The Town of Hollywood needed to repave and repair Trexler Avenue, its primary access road. In doing so, it also took the opportunity to improve the park and memorial gardens located on the street, now named “Serenity Park” in honor of the nine victims of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting.

The mayor and the town council worked together on a plan to pave the roadway. The SC Department of Transportation provided the necessary roadway engineering and analysis of the plans to expand the new road to SC Highway 162, while the Charleston County Public Works provided construction oversight and helped with preventing the unnecessary loss of trees in the project area.   

Funding for the project was achieved through state road tax funds, county road tax funds, and the Town of Hollywood. Future plans for the area include roadside landscaping and accessible restrooms for the park. 

Contact Roy DeHaven at or 843.834.5924.  

Town of James Island - Pet Waste Station Program  
Aimed at preventing the disposal of pet waste in unapproved receptacles, on the ground or in draining ditches where contamination can filter into area water systems, the Town of James Island Pet Waste Station Program provides pet waste stations that are cleaned and supplied by the James Island Public Service District on their regular weekly collection route. Local volunteers from area high schools and the Boy Scouts help to install and manage the stations. 

Before the program began in 2019, James Island Creek was designated as a impaired water body impaired by the total maximum daily load of pollutants entering it under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Now it shows very little to no canine fecal bacteria. As of 2022, a record of 12.5 tons of pet waste was removed from the environment, four times the tonnage removed in the program’s first year. 

Funding for the original eight-station pilot program cost $4,832. After the success of the pilot program, town council approved funding additional stations at $604 per station for setup and implementation. James Island currently enjoys 14 pet waste stations. 

Contact Mark Johnson at or 843.795.4141.  

Town of Lexington - Community Engagement Project  
Realizing that it needed to rethink how it engaged with its residents, Lexington Town Council took on an initiative to grow its social media presence, especially on Facebook. Through interactive social media content, the town aimed to connect with the community using content that was less formal and more social than conventional governmental communication, allowing for greater interactions with its constituents. The town also worked to organically grow its social audience through constant monitoring and responding to comments, messages, and other forms of engagement.  

Since initiating this strategy in 2019, the Town of Lexington’s Facebook audience has grown to 25,868 users — a 267% increase, and a total number of followers greater than the town’s entire population.  

The project is fully funded through the town’s budget for staffing and operations, with 50% coming from the general fund and 50% coming from the enterprise fund. The town’s communications manager and marketing assistant spearhead this initiative.  

Contact Laurin Barnes at or 803.600.2533.   

City of Manning - An “IT” Renaissance in Downtown Manning 
The City of Manning partnered with the IT outsourcing company Provalus as well as Clarendon County and the state of South Carolina to renovate a historic storefront building into a space that Provalus could use and serve as an anchor for revitalizing the downtown. Built in 1919, this two-story, 30,000-square-foot facility locally known as the “Old Belk Building” served as the first department store in Manning and housed the first elevator in the area.  

In 2015, the city purchased the building for $350,000. This correlated with the city’s emphasis on marketing other community assets to retailers and developers, which eventually led Provalus to reach out to the City of Manning for a partnership.  

Funding for the $1.5 million project was through Clarendon County Business Development Corporation, Clarendon County, the State of South Carolina, and the City of Manning. Provalus has estimated that it will expand its workforce to approximately 300 over the next two years, and the city plans to continue an aggressive approach to economic and downtown development.  

Contact Scott Tanner at or 803.825.9008.  

Town of Mount Pleasant - The Mount Pleasant Youth Council  
The concept of a Mount Pleasant Youth Council stemmed from the town’s Recreation Department, which wanted to engage teens not involved in athletics or other programs. Implemented in 202, the Youth Council allows students to participate in various leadership and civic roles, and is available to current high school students, including homeschooled students.  

Successful applicants serve a one-year term of monthly meetings and quarterly service projects. Youth Council members attend at least one town council meeting, and act as liaisons between their schools and the Youth Council. The program participates in communitywide events and projects, including partnering with local and national nonprofit organizations for awareness campaigns on issues like substance abuse, sexual abuse and human trafficking.  

The Youth Council receives $1,000 in annual funding from the town’s general fund public relations line item. Print and marketing items make up less than half of the budget, and students have initiated their own fundraising campaigns as well. The town hopes to grow the program with new projects annually and to continue to foster engagement with its youth.  

Contact Martine Miller at or 843.270.0457. 

City of Myrtle Beach - Arts & Innovation District – 9th Avenue City Block Rehabilitation  
With older buildings, unoccupied storefronts, and rent increases, Myrtle Beach’s historic downtown needed restoration. As part of the city’s 2019 Downtown Master Plan, the city established the area as the Arts & Innovation Zoning District, seeking to create a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use cultural area in the downtown. The Ninth Avenue block at the heart of this district received a wide-ranging redevelopment as an early step in this plan, aimed at supporting entrepreneurship.  

Public meetings taking place over several years allowed for residents and businesses to show their support for the project. The city installed underground infrastructure, reinvigorated a public plaza and improved parking. Private investment followed, including the HTC Aspire Hub coworking space, and now a performing arts center and new library are planned.  

The project was funded primarily through bonds, but the city also collaborated with developers to capitalize on the Historic and Abandoned Building tax credits, amounting to $715,561. Additional bonds were generated from tax increment finance revenue, parking fees, the general fund and Santee Cooper franchise fees. More than $80 million in funds have been spent or are allocated to block improvements.  

Contact Devin Parks at or 843.918.1055.  

City of North Augusta - Public Power Hour 
In June 2021, North Augusta’s Mayor Briton Williams and city council created the Public Power Hour, is a monthly event. An opportunity for residents to engage with city leaders without the pressures of an official meeting, Public Power Hours precede council meetings and allow residents and business owners to address the mayor and council about their concerns in a less formal way. No city staff members are in attendance, which can facilitate more direct dialogue between participants and elected officials.  

The city’s original community member attendance goals for these sessions have been exceeded, with 28 speakers in 2022. Councilmembers and city staff now regularly encourage residents to attend the sessions to discuss issues. Many topics discussed like pedestrian safety and even the city’s tow truck ordinance, have received attention and action from council.    

No additional funding is required for the meetings, as the city uses its existing staff to notify the public of the events, document the session and manage video livestreaming. The Public Power Hours will continue to be free, monthly events.  

Contact Rachelle Moody at or 803.441.4202.  

Town of Patrick - Town of Patrick Litter Crew  
In Patrick, U.S. Highway 1 and SC Highway 102 were suffering from a growing litter problem — visible to all travelers and highlighted in the local media. To address the problem, the Town of Patrick launched its Litter Removal Crew in 2022, a program coordinated by Mayor Rosa Lee Millsaps Privette. 

The litter crew provides weekly litter removal services along these trafficked routes. In eight months, the team picked up trash for five hours each Saturday, with each crew member paid $14 per hour. Mayor Privette provided all coordination efforts, documentation, and monthly recording as an in-kind donation. The efforts resulted in the collection of 510 bags of litter adding up 10,200 pounds and removed from 85 miles of highway.  

The litter crew was entirely funded through a $12,000 grant from South Carolina Palmetto Pride, and so the town has applied for another round of funding for its 2023 efforts.  

Contact Rosa Lee Millsaps Privette at or 843.680.0480.   

Town of Six Mile - Bryson Children’s Nature Walk  
In 2003, Six Mile resident Conrad Ardell Bryson bequeathed more than 63 acres to the town for the benefit of economically challenged children. This land features scenic greenspace, a pond and a wetlands area, and so the gift could fit into the town’s goal, stated in the comprehensive plan, of protecting greenspace. 

To establish a children’s nature walk on the property, town officials worked closely with Bryson’s estate representatives as well as the local land trust Upstate Forever. The efforts protect the land in perpetuity through a Conservation Easement, which would not only maintain the land’s pristine features but also fulfill the terms of the will. 

The project received $8,000 in closing costs from the Upstate Land Conservation Fund, as well as Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. The town continues to work with Bryson’s estate and accepts private donations from residents and businesses to maintain the facility. The property will also feature an outdoor learning area and garden for students of Six Mile Elementary School. 

Contact James Atkinson at or 864.207.8854.  

City of Sumter - Emerging Leaders  
To grow its future workforce and prepare local youth for real-world experiences, the City of Sumter created the Ross McKenzie Emerging Leaders Program for high school juniors. The initiative emerged from a community education summit in 2016 aimed at tapping into different cross-sections of the community on ways to further improve the Sumter community.  

Using the expertise of several community partners and the Sumter School District, the program offers monthly interactive modules designed to develop students’ leadership skills through critical thinking, team building and creative problem solving. All students who successfully complete the program receive three credit hours through the University of South Carolina Sumter. The first four years of the program produced 89 graduates, who often sit on various local boards and committees.  

Funding for the project came from The LINK Economic Development Alliance, City of Sumter, Sumter County and the Sumter Economic Development Growth Engine, and the SC Department of Commerce.  

Contact Shelley Kile at or 803.795.2463.