Proposal from development director needs long term support

By Ava

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCIV) Shoppers are continuing to do business along Front Street in Georgetown, and economic planners in Georgetown are searching for ways to keep them there long after the 700 block is rebuilt.

Tee Miller, the economic development director for the city of Georgetown, says before the Front Street fire, he planned to propose Georgetown become a "Main Street" program community. Miller says the program helps small communities organize a plan for town promotion and economic growth.

"The fire has really rallied a lot of merchants to start working together, they're realizing with this fourth quarter with Christmas and missing eight buildings in the heart of the downtown. They had to do something's to get people to come. So they've started working together realizing they have common customers," he said.

During a recent city council workshop, Miller proposed that now is certainly the time to begin the application process. During his proposal Miller laid out the "Main Street" four-point approach, which is used in eight other smaller cities in South Carolina.

"Every town wants their own identity everybody likes being a part of the Lowcountry, but they want to be their own. I think Summerville has done a good job of capturing that and making it where people want to live," said Miller. {}

Summerville Dream Inc. began 22 years ago as a way to organize city officials and business owners.

"The vacancy rate in Summerville was running between 40 and 60 percent and they decided that it was time for a change. So they approached South Carolina Main Street and began working with them," says Executive Director Janyce Hursey.

She says Summerville would be practically empty if business owners didn't ban together and become a "Main Street" community.

"They have a group of people that you can call on, experts that will come in and give you advice that will work with you that will help you develop what your community wants to do," said Hursey.

Miller says it's a three year process to get accredited as a "Main Street" community, but the results for Georgetown would be worth it.