Aiken businesses welcome new growth

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 11:51 PM EST
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Monday, January 13, 2020

News 12 at 11 o'clock

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- Aiken city officials are committed to growth in the area, and local business owners are excited for what that means for their businesses.

"I'm pumped," said Alley Kneece, owner of Alley Downtown Taproom. "I think the more the merrier."

Kneece opened the Alley Downtown Taproom in March 2017.

"It was very quiet. There wasn't a lot of traffic," she said. "There wasn't a buzz around the town about downtown Aiken."

But a lot has changed since then, and a lot more change is on the way.

"Having growth is very good," said Van Smith, owner of Lionel Smith Limited. "If you're standing still, you're going backwards."

Smith was born and raised in Aiken, and took over the family business in 1992. He's also on the board for the Aiken Downtown Development Association. While some people may not want change, he said the city needs it.

"I think that you have a healthy city with some change," he said. "You want to keep the people you have, but you definitely want some change."

More people means more businesses coming downtown. Instead of seeing competition, Kneece sees a partnership.

"If there was only just me downtown, then no one would come downtown," she said. "Most people don't go to the same spot every single day. You need more."

Aiken prides itself on its small-town feel, and some may worry adding too many people will make it feel like a larger city. Kneece said they can get the best of both worlds.

"I think you can have, in a sense, a big-city life with a small-town feel," she said.

From food to retail, businesses young and old are ready for big things to come to this small town.

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