Beppie LeGrand of the SC Municipal Association presented information about the program to members of the Greater Williamston Business Association (GWBA) on Tuesday. Only eleven members of the 40 plus member association attended the presentation.
LeGrand told the business people that the Main St. SC Program works with the local community in providing training and tools to revitalize and promote a town.
This is done through a four point approach which focuses on organization, promotion, economic development and design, she said.
The program is designed to help build a strong community base and to help identify assets and what could be added to complement what is already there.
According to LeGrand the process includes grassroots partnerships with a lot of public meetings and vision planning.
She said the program is not an event planning organization, it is not a committee or another bureaucracy and not a catch all. “It has to be focused,” she said. “You have to tie everything to a budget.”
LeGrand said that average size businesses in a small town will contribute more to a tax base than a Walmart store.
She said unique stores and personal service can offer a substantial contribution to a local economy and a wider market draw.
“People like to do more than just shopping,” LeGrand said. “They like to experience shopping with more. They like to browse and look.” LeGrand said product placement in existing businesses can help draw customers into a business.
Following the four points, she said there has to be organization. “We have to know what we are doing and have somone in charge,” she said.
Promotion focuses on creating an image. “Image is the most important to folks who live here and to others wherever they are,” LeGrand said.
The program focuses on Economic Development by identifying new purposes for existing structures, looking at inventory and what is needed in a community.
LeGrand said that the proximity of Pelzer and West Pelzer can be promoted as a region rather than as three separate entities.
“The connectivity is so real,” she said. “You should promote the greater Williamston area, the family of the region.”
LeGrand was asked by GWBA president Chris Trotter to present information to the group after questions about it arose during a recent meeting of the local business group.
Last Tuesday, GWBA member David Meade (The Journal), provided some information about the program to the group. Meade recommended the group offer an endorsement and possibly some financial help if needed.
There was considerable discussion about the program and some members said they needed more information before they could fully support it with any type of funding.
Overall consensus was that something needs to be done to improve the town’s business community.
Members agreed to provide a statement to Williamston Town Council in support of the Main St. SC Program that is being considered.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham is encouraging Town Council to provide funding for the program.
The program requires a full time coordinator with a salary of approximately $35,000.
The first year is essentially the organizational phase and the cost is $10,000. The second and third years cost $7500 per year, and subsequent years generally cost $5000 a year.