Main St. program could help with revitalization

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By David Meade

The Palmetto Area Economic Development Committee recently held a workshop which featured Beppie J. LeGrand of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. LeGrand is the Director of the Main Street South Carolina Program and presented information on the program.

The State Municipal Association offers the Downtown Revitalization Program to help small towns and municipalities organize structure in small communities to help them turn around their towns, LeGrand said.

LeGrand explained that the program was developed after the State Department of Commerce asked them to help. According to LeGrand, the SC Department of Commerce was taking industry prospects to downtowns and what they were seeing were downtowns that were “drying up.”

LeGrand said a preliminary evaulation of the Williamston, Pelzer and West Pelzer area showed there is “A lot of opportunity and potential in these communities.”

She pointed out there currently is no organized effort among the three towns resulting in fragmentation and a duplication of efforts. “You have three communities sitting on top of each other,” she said.

LeGrand said the Main St. program looks at what is available individually and regionally, needs of thearea, advantages and opportunities and how to go about marketing and presenting the community.

She said the Main Street SC Program focuses on special events, promotions, raising money and awareness.

The program focuses on four primary areas including organization, promotion, design (landscaping, buildings), and economic development.

In the process of developing a vision for the area, the program provides resources to make the vision a reality.

The Main Street Program also provides a resource team of experts in business development and design for 3-5 days, training to familiarize the coordinator with terms, technical assistance, design training.

The PAED and LeGrand are encouraging the three towns to join the program. If they do, it will be the first time three individual towns have jointly participated, LeGrand said. The program calls for a three year committment and must have a paid director, she said. Expenses will be divided among the three towns.

Cost for the three towns to participate in the program are $10,000 for the first year, $7,500 for the second year and $7,500 for the third year. Once performance standards are met, the ongoing yearly cost is $5,000. The director position would be a full time, 40 hour per week position with a salary comparable to other economic development professionals in the area, estimated at around $35,000.