Clinton probably won't be chosen for Main Street program

We don’t think the City of Clinton will have to spend the $10,000 that a first-year member of Main Street South Carolina pays. With Mayor Bob McLean and Council Member Jimmy Young both on record being against the Main Street program – administered in South Carolina by the Municipal Association of SC – we don’t think Clinton will be one of the cities/towns chosen this year to join the program. Main Street South Carolina accepts applications every year until Oct. 15 and then picks the new members of the program – usually two or three cities a year. The application form begins with the mayor of the applying city certifying that he/she and the council members who also sign “certify that we submit approve and endorse the submission of this application…” And while McLean and Young may sign the application and thereby endorse the application, that is not the same thing as endorsing the program and Clinton’s membership in it. Why would Main Street South Carolina choose us? Aren’t they more likely to accept the application of a city whose mayor and all members of council are enthusiastic about becoming a Main Street city? Council Member Gary Kuykendall, who was a surprise “yes” vote to join Main Street, put it best when he said Clinton has to be enthusiastic about Main Street and committed to the program on a long-term basis for it to succeed. If the city cuts bait at the first sign of failure – or at the lack of a quick success – the program is doomed, Kuykendall said. After the vote to apply to join Main Street passed 5-2, McLean said he will whole-heartedly support Main Street in Clinton. We don’t think he’ll get the chance. If Clinton is chosen, the first three years of the program are an “intensive…technical assistance and training” program – a Boot Camp for the cities chosen. Main Street SC will offer vision planning sessions and a team will visit Clinton to evaluate the current situation, determine what we need and recommend how to get what we need. After the 3-year Boot Camp, cities move down to a second membership tier and receive ongoing support as needed. The cost to be a member of Main Street SC drops significantly at that time, as well. The City of Laurens is a second tier Main Street program. During the Aug. 1 city council meeting, McLean pointed to Laurens as having close to the same number of empty buildings downtown as does Clinton. He also pointed to Newberry as having a vibrant, successful downtown despite not being a Main Street city. Main Street cities adhere to the 4-point approach of the National Main Street Center: organization, economic development, design and promotion. New Main Street cities have a six-month review and then annual reviews. If goals and objective aren’t met, the state Main Street program makes recommendations and suggestions to achieve the goals. If the goals still aren’t met, a city can be kicked out of the state and national programs. The following cities in South Carolina are Main Street members: Aiken, Beaufort, Bennettsville, Gaffney, Georgetown, Hartsville, Lancaster, Laurens, Manning, Moncks Corner, Orangeburg, Pickens, Summerville, Sumter, Williamston and Woodruff. We hope the committee tapped with choosing cities to join Main Street on Jan. 1, 2017, will recognize the desire and resolve that Clinton has to grow our retail business community and to promote our town. But don’t be surprised if we get passed by.

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