Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Hundreds gathered to hear the state of the community inside the USC Aiken Convocation Center Wednesday.
"We have to stay awake, we have to watch, and we have to look toward the future,” said Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce President David Jameson.
After speakers and presentations, there were two important announcements.
The first involves a brick building in the heart of Downtown Aiken. The building will soon take new life.
"I think the environment in this building is going to have that young, fresh urban environment,” Jameson said.
Aiken Young Professional and Hammond's Ferry Project Manager Catie Rabun will make that happen. In a downtown built on small businesses, she says the project will be important in incubating more small businesses.
"It could be someone who is a freelance designer, a writer, someone who produces patents, retired engineers,” she said. “I think it's limitless."
In a downtown where sometimes rents are costly, Rabun's alternative will offer cut overheads, low rents, and a unique business environment that could attract new businesses and more jobs.
"Instead of renting out all 19,000 sq. ft. to one tenant, we're looking for a lot of different, smaller tenants,” Rabun said.
USC Aiken is partnering with Rabun to develop that business incubator.
The audience also found out that construction on a new Aiken County government complex nears completion, Bridgestone continues construction and the City of Aiken is tackling crime with a new initiative, but layoffs at Savannah River Site due to budget cuts still loom.
"I'd say the state of our community in Aiken is very positive and forward-thinking. We're going to be the leaders in South Carolina,” Jameson said.
It was also announced during the luncheon that Midland Valley Preparatory School is partnering with Aiken Technical College.
Eighth graders will be put on the fast track to get a manufacturing job.