Friday, March 25, 2016

Greenwood Shows its Stuff

The City of Greenwood rolled out the red carpet welcoming a group of mayors for a day-long tour showing off downtown, touting relationships with local organizations and sharing economic development successes.

The day kicked off in the newly refurbished Inn on the Square with Greenwood City Manager Charlie Barrineau briefing mayors from around the state about the rebirth of downtown, city events, relationships with Greenwood County and plans for the future.

Charlie told the group about how, in the 1970s, a rail line ran through the middle of downtown. There was little in the way of retail, restaurants, housing and entertainment to attract people to the area. Today, thanks to a long-range master plan, the rail line is gone, plants and trees abound, restaurants thrive, retail is growing and people are moving in.

Charlie talked with the mayors about the events the city hosts over the course of the year to attract people downtown. Flowers and foliage are one focus city leaders identified as a draw to the city. The Annual Festival of Flowers every summer brings thousands downtown and features 40 life sized topiaries ranging from a Gamecock and a Tiger to a giraffe and a horse

“We don’t have a beach or a mountain, but we do have these unique topiaries that bring thousands of people here,” Charlie explained when talking about why the city invests in growing and maintaining these topiaries and other plants in its own greenhouse.

The Festival of BBQ every July is another huge draw to downtown. “With Carolina Pride as one of our big corporate leaders in town, we sure better have one of the biggest BBQ festivals in the state,” Charlie said. There's also a Carolina Pride pig among the collection of topiary characters.

Arts Center
The city also focused on creating a concentration of arts and cultural facilities downtown. An arts center located in the former post office, a reclaimed movie theater that’s now a theater for plays and other live events, and a museum of local history anchor a single block in the middle of downtown. Charlie said these arts groups always coordinate events to ensure maximum participation.

When asked about how the city promotes the many events downtown, Charlie touted the value of social media. He ticked off the several dozen Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages plus the YouTube channel he manages for the city and various venues and events.

Mayors also got a windshield tour of downtown to see the new farmers market, refurbished downtown facades, the Greenwood Genetics Center, Lander’s athletic fields and the city greenhouse.

Throughout the day, Charlie fielded questions from the mayors who were curious about everything from the funding sources Greenwood used for infrastructure improvements to how long it takes to keep up with all the social media outreach.
Newberry Mayor Foster Senn noted at the end of the day, “I can get so much out of visiting another city, talking to other mayors and learning from others’ successes on these city tours.”

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