Summerville, SC, April 24, 2018 - For three consecutive years, the Chamber has collected a group of local decision-makers and sent them up the road to similar communities in an effort to learn best practices. The group consisted of Chamber board members, local elected officials, business owners, and town and county staff members. Previous inter-city visits have include Greenville/Greer, SC, Hendersonville/Asheville, NC, and York County/Fort Mill, SC. This year, the Chamber invited the group to be tourists in their own town in the hopes that they may implement some of the great ideas collected from past trips.
The intra-city visit was a two day trip that began at Brosnan Forest's Conference Center, where attendees met to discuss takeaways from previous trips and what they could do to make Summerville and Dorchester County an even better place to live, work and play. A lot of the discussion focused on parks and recreation, as well as core areas of the community that could benefit from attention and improvement. The Oakbrook area and its revitalization was a key topic during the discussion.
On day two, attendees hopped on a bus towards Summerville for a day of touring their own town. Stops included Cooks Crossroads, county park sites, Jessen boat landing, and various commercial areas slated for redevelopment, including the Bi-Lo and K-Mart parking lots in Oakbrook. Attendees were then treated to a golf cart tour of the complete Sawmill Branch Trail, focusing on its current assets and areas of need. Key opportunities to improve the accessibility, connectivity and awareness dominated most of the conversation around the trail. The importance of private-public partnership ,and how it has already benefited the usability of the trail, was apparent.
The motorized tour continued into Azalea Park, where attendees started a foot tour of the historic downtown area where the main focus was economic development. The tour continued to the new Summerville Commission of Public Works building, a model for innovative use of land and design standards led by the public sector. The trip ended with a working lunch at the Cuthbert Community Center, when the group debriefed and talked openly about the main takeaways of the trip. The Chamber Board of Directors and trip attendees plan to keep an open line of communication in the hopes to create an action plan based on what they have learned.