Fifteen mayors spent the day touring these two cities learning from local successes and challenges. In this rapidly growing pocket of the state, these two cities are doing a great job of managing explosive growth while also looking to the future.
Mayors from cities as diverse as Newberry and Johnston to Isle of Palms and Clinton learned about Fort Mill’s downtown redevelopment plans and tourism promotion through its Strawberry Festival. While visiting downtown, Fort Mill Mayor Danny Funderburk emphasized two elements that were critical to redevelopment in the town – parks and parking. Funderburk noted that Fort Mill is the third fastest growing city in the state with today’s population of 10,000 expected to triple by 2030.
Fort Mill’s planning director, Joe Cronin, encouraged the mayors to take a close look at their city’s zoning ordinance to make sure nothing gets in the way of progress. He and the mayor both stressed the importance of strategic planning and staying on top of updating and managing the plan.
Mayors moved on to Rock Hill where they got a virtual tour of the city by Mayor Doug Echols over lunch at the city’s flagship park, Manchester Meadows. He described the city’s focus on its downtown Knowledge Park and its sports tourism efforts. Last year, the city sponsored 28 sports tourism events that resulted in more than $8.2 million in economic impact, Echols said. The mayors got to visit the city’s velodrome and toured the BMX facility under construction nearby.
The best part of the day, the mayors agreed, was the chance for them to share ideas during the bus ride between tour stops. Conversations on the bus ranged from the benefits of LED lighting to purchasing police cars.
The chance to learn from other mayors was great, said Johnston Mayor Terrence Culbreth, the most recently elected mayor in the group. “We need to do this more often,” said Lake City Mayor Lovith Anderson.
Check out the Association’s Twitter feed to get more details and see photos about the tour stops.