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City eyes new program to promote Downtown Georgetown

  • Friday, December 6, 2013

Clayton Stairs/Times Shoppers stop in The Sly Fox, one of the many specialty shops on Front Street in Georgetown. From left are Becky Godwin, Connie Saunders, Gayle Roush and Kim Canady, all of Gallipolis, Ohio. Even after the tragedy of the Sept. 25 fire, the street is bustling with activity.

Georgetown City Council got a first look Thursday at a program that is aimed at helping increase the number of visitors to Front Street and the city’s Historic District.

The program - called the Main Street Four-Point Approach - is a national movement helping to revitalize the business areas of cities and towns by promoting local assets.

The “Main Street” program was created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1977. It provides framework for organization and mission, and opens doors to funding, according to Tee Miller, the City of Georgetown’s director of Planning and Economic Development. In this state, the program is called Main Street South Carolina and is operated through the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

The program “empowers citizens with the knowledge, skills, tools and organizational structure necessary to revitalize their downtowns, neighborhood commercial districts and cities into vibrant centers of commerce and community,” Miller explained.

There are four main components to make the program a success:

Organization. “This involves getting everyone working toward the same goal and assembling the appropriate human and financial resources to implement a Main Street revitalization program,” Miller explained.

Promotion. This is creating a positive image of the commercial district which encourages consumers and investors to be a part of the area.

Design. This means getting the downtown area “into top physical shape” so it can capitalize on its best assets.

Economic Restructuring. This will strengthen the community’s existing economic assets while expanding and diversifying its economic base.

All of the “Main Street” programs are collaborations between city governments and the private sector. A board of directors is made up of citizens, business owners and city leaders. The committee will help organize special events such as festivals, concerts, movies in the park, etc.

They will also act as a designated marketing organization by coordinating grass roots and paid advertising that promotes the area.

Councilman Brendon Barber said when the committee is formed, it needs to consist of representation from across the city - not just Front Street.

Miller said it will take quite a while before results will be seen.

“It really takes off in year four,” Miller said, adding Beaufort has been a “Main Street” member for 25 years but successes were not noticed until year 10.

Councilman Clarence Smalls said he wants to make sure the program creates jobs.

Miller said jobs will be created if new businesses locate in Georgetown as a result of the program.

Miller said the first thing council needs to do is pass a resolution indicating they are in support of the program. That is expected to take place at its meeting Dec. 19.

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