Skip to main content

Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

​Each year, Main Street South Carolina recognizes members' achievements and successes in downtown revitalization.

2024 Award Recipients

Excellence on Main Street Award

Outstanding Service
Main Street Inman – Mayor’s Youth Council  


When Inman Mayor Cornelius Huff took office, he found that the city’s youth felt little connection to it and that it lacked selling points. He responded by creating the Mayor’s Youth Council, a group open to high school juniors and seniors through a competitive application process, which has cultivated civic pride and dedication and created a wealth of social capital in the city — including its downtown and the Inman Main Street program. 

With less than 30 spots available on the council each year, the students from Chapman High School undergo a rigorous selection process for Youth Council participation, including teacher referrals, grade requirements and one-on-one interviews. 

Youth Council members participate in monthly cleanup days. They must attend at least five city council meetings a year to learn about their local government, and volunteer at city events like “Boo on Mill” and “Light Up Inman.” Enthusiasm for the Youth Council’s work is so strong that students will bring friends to volunteer who have no obligation to do so.  

In 2023, the Mayor’s Youth Council, along with Inman’s Main Street volunteer team, contributed a total of 544 hours of service for the community. Having the youth involved in downtown activities has been invaluable to Main Street Inman. The Youth Council has also begun a research project to create a written and pictorial history of Inman’s downtown. 

Since the creation of the council a decade ago, it has created lasting change in the Inman community, fostered better community connections among its young people, and has served a model for other programs around South Carolina.  

Contact April Williams at or 864.913.7018.  



Inspiration Awards

Gaines Jontz Rehabilitation
Main Street Inman – 3, 5 and 7 Mill St.  

Inman native Amanda Blackwell, now the owner of the Pink Salon at 5 Mill St., bought the storefronts at 3, 5 and 7 Mill St. at a time when downtown Inman was in decline and occupancy was around 25%.  

She and her family extensively renovated the long-vacant buildings using local contractors, managing the costs by handling them one at a time over six years. She supplemented her personal financing with city facade grant funding.  

With the three properties each painted its own distinctive bright color, Inman residents have declared them to be a miniature version of Charleston’s famous Rainbow Row.  The most challenging component of the rehabilitation project completed in 2023, 3 Mill St., is now a mixed-use property housing the Med Spa and an apartment. 7 Mill St. is home to the Wildflower Soul Collective shop. Blackwell has proven to be a visionary in her redevelopment, as Inman’s downtown now boasts 85% occupancy.  

Contact April Williams at or 864.913.7018.  


Master Merchant
Main Street Inman – Marianne McElveen, Kempson Rexall Drugs 

Kempson Rexall Drugs, originally Orr’s Rexall Drugs, has remained a part of downtown Inman since 1905, joining a handful of other businesses in outlasting the district’s period of decline. Marianne McElveen, alongside her husband Sandy, have maintained and renovated this local institution while finding ways to keep it one of Inman’s favorite places.  

The drugstore became one of the first in the district to expand its business hours, increasing customer traffic on Main Street. It also brought back and expanded its old-fashioned soda fountain, where customers can buy a malt or a Coca-Cola with cherry syrup added.  

Kempson Rexall Drugs has embraced all of the town’s special events, using extended hours for each of the Music on Mill concert dates, and partnering with a new Inman business for an ice cream giveaway. They also had staff in 1950s-style soda jerk uniforms selling ice cream throughout the concerts. Marianne and Sandy McElveen champion the city and help new businesses with advice as well.  

Contact April Williams at or 864.913.7018.  


Outstanding Business Development Program
Main Street Fountain Inn – Main Street Improvement Grant Program  

At a time when Fountain Inn businesses were struggling to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic, city leaders resolved to support local merchants, and build a better downtown district at the same time, through the Main Street Improvement Grant Program.  

The program provided for reimbursements of up to $20,000 through an Outdoor Expansion and Beautification Grant, addressing spaces intended for public use; a Facade Improvement Grant of up to $10,00; and an Outdoor Seating and Accessories for Tourism & Hospitality Businesses Grant of up to $4,000. 

The city funded the grants through $250,000 from its one-time American Rescue Plan Act allotment. The program awarded 33 individual grants in 2022 and 2023 for everything from removal of slipcover facades, window replacements, awnings, parking improvements and lighting. With Fountain Inn growing and downtown properties difficult to find for business owners, the city has approved streetscape improvements further south out of the district’s central core.  

Contact Martin Lane at or 864.216.2480.  


Outstanding Special Project
Downtown Florence – North Dargan Street Mural Project  

With railroad tracks separating the 200 block of North Dargan Street from much of downtown Florence, this part of the city’s historic Black business district had experienced underinvestment for decades. As part of its work to reverse this trend, Florence’s Main Street program aimed to celebrate the area and the contributions of local barbershop culture with a mural on the historic building housing the Thompson Barber College.  

The Main Street program acquired the removable mural cloth material — ideal for historic buildings — that allowed nearly 500 community members to participate in the painting. Partners for the $50,000 project included SC Rural Arts Project and Claflin University students for a design that commemorates Florence’s history, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance. A T-Mobile Hometown Grant made possible a pocket park next to the mural. As part of the Thompson family’s investment in the project, they secured a new roof to stabilize the building. 

Contact Hannah Davis at or 843.678.5912.