Downtown revitalization spurred by public-private partnerships has helped Greenville, South Carolina, build a reputation as an attractive place to live and visit, according to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
More than a hundred Baton Rouge business, community and political leaders will travel this week to Greenville, which Southern Living magazine named the South’s “Best City on the Rise,” for BRAC’s Regional Canvas Benchmarking Workshop. The trip allows participants to immerse themselves in a peer community and explore best practices, BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp says.
Between 1982 and 2016, Greenville leaders leveraged $126 million in public funding to get $487 million in private funding for 19 major downtown projects, notes Jake Polansky, BRAC’s manager of economic and policy research. Projects include Greenville Commons, a luxury hotel and convention space built in partnership with the Hyatt Regency Corporation, and Project ONE, which created a pedestrian-oriented corridor featuring corporate headquarters, retail and restaurant spaces, and the home of Clemson University’s MBA program.
Much of the public funding came through tax increment financing districts, banking on future property value increases to fund capital improvements.
Polansky says Greenville leaned on its roots in textile manufacturing to diversify its economy and grow its automotive manufacturing sector. BRAC is promoting a similar transformation, leaning on local industrial expertise to accelerate growth in transitional energy.
While the cities have similarly sized populations, Baton Rouge has some competitive advantages, BRAC says, including the state’s flagship university and proximity to the Mississippi River. The Baton Rouge metro’s GDP was $9 billion greater than Greenville’s in 2020 despite having 6% fewer residents.
Check back with Daily Report this week for reports from the Greenville canvas trip.