Greenville Named One of "America's Coolest Small Towns" After Downtown Redevelopment

By: Lauren Forsythe Email
By: Lauren Forsythe Email
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"We are literally Mayberry in the 20th century. I mean we are small, we're quaint, we're inviting," says Greenville Tourism Commission Director, Beth Newman.
 

The town of Greenville has received some national recognition, getting 3rd runner-up as "America's Coolest Small Town 2013", but it took years of hard work.

Five years ago, city officials say Downtown Greenville was falling apart.

"We started with a downtown that needed a lot of work, had a lot of empty buildings," says Greenville Tourism Commission Chair Jamie Wells.

"We had approximately 15 vacant buildings on Main Street, and today we probably have three or four," Greenville Mayor Ed DeArmond says.

When DeArmond was elected in 2007, it was his goal to revitalize Downtown Greenville.

"We went back in the archives and looked at main street back in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's," he says.

"As he came into our office he put a big sign in our counsel room that said, 'Don't tell me why we can't, tell me how we can'," says Greenville City Administrator, Ben Van Hooser.

City officials got to work, applying for revitalization and transportation grants that would end up totaling $800,000.

"We did an event called 'Let's Paint the Town' where the community came out and the shop owners were very willing to work with us and we had volunteer efforts in that project that refaced all of our downtown buildings," Wells says.

The grants also allowed the city to pay for brick-paved sidewalks, traffic lights, and several outdoor beautification projects.

"We are literally Mayberry in the 20th century. I mean we are small, we're quaint, we're inviting," says Greenville Tourism Commission Director, Beth Newman.

"Someone would come in, and spend the day in Downtown Greenville, shop in one of our shops, eat in one of our eateries, and enjoy the charm of the historic downtown area," Wells says.

And five years later, their vision has become a reality.

Downtown Greenville has become the destination for craft festivals, concerts, and more, bringing in thousands of tourists.

Most recently, Greenville became one of "America's Coolest Small Towns".

"We are quite honored being a town of only about 4,200 people," Van Hooser says.

"I think there is a lot of variety here for people to come and be apart of and we try to make that a low or now cost," Wells says.

Officials say the downtown revitalization project is about 85% complete.


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