McLendon updates Civitans on progress

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2007

The story is one of progress and fun to tell.

So Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon is making the rounds, accepting invitations to share an update on the status of the Camellia City.

It's an upbeat message sprinkled with chapters of success and doses of optimism.

He told members of the Lions Club Monday, then repeated it Tuesday night with the Civitans Club. Chances are, he'll be taking his power point presentation to a podium near you soon.

&#8220We're doing well,” McClendon said simply. &#8220We're making progress. There is still much to accomplish, but we have some momentum and lots of work by a lot of people is starting to fall into place.”

Key to the success is a three-phase plan that was launched in 2000 when unemployment hovered in the mid teens and the city's future looked anything but bright.

Leaders targeted new jobs as the primary goal, noting population growth and money circulation couldn't happen without additional industry, business and employment opportunities. Those new jobs, they reasoned, would attract commercial expansion and lead to the need for additional housing.

&#8220We're seeing the plan come together,” the mayor said. &#8220The cycle is beginning to pay off and we feel like it will continue and even expand.”

The emergence of Hyundai just south of Montgomery has been a prime catalyst, he explained, encouraging suppliers to look at Greenville and Butler County to fill their workforce needs.

Hwashin America Corp. and Hysco America Co., Tier One suppliers for the Korean plant, have fared well here with both now in an expansion mode that &#8220is a sign of their confidence in the future of the plant and our community.”

AIA Recycling has emerged as a significant player as well, taking scrap iron from the original product via a railroad spur line that reduces highway truck traffic and returns it to Korea.

A unique manufacturing shift moves West Point Home (130 employees) into the old Rhemn building. That enables Key Safety Systems (120 employees) to move into the facility that formerly housed West Point and Shoreline Trucking (which ultimately may employ between 180-200) will utilize the old Key site, providing improved space for all.

Corstone Industries has also grown, adding warehouse space in the industrial park.

&#8220Our employment situation,” McClendon said, &#8220is leaps and bounds better than it was. The most recent figure had us at 5.1 percent and I wouldn't be surprised if we were below 4 percent this summer. If that happens, it would be absolutely amazing.”

As predicted, commercial development has trailed the new jobs.

The Chef's Table, Tomatoes Etc., David's Catfish, Little Caesar's Pizza and El Rodeo Mexican have all opened or have plans to open here, changing the dining landscape. An Italian restaurant is considering a site in the El Rodeo building.

Dollar General is building a second location near the downtown area. Walgreens just announced it will build its larger 15,000-square complex at the old Thrifty Inn site and the eight-screen NAOS movie theatre is progressing nicely near where a new Holiday Inn Express will be located.

State and municipal work is brisk, too.

Three-laning of the Greenville Bypass from Butler County Bank to the highway bridge is under way. Hangars at the Mac Crenshaw Airport have been finished and are already leased. The reality of a new Butler County jail is nearing and expansion of the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College's Greenville campus nears completion.

&#8220We're really excited about the new nursing facility,” he said of the college work. &#8220And construction of a new conference center will open many doors for our entire community.

&#8220The college is one of the keys to our future. Providing school programs and jobs will help us keep our kids in town. Once they leave, they don't come back and the LBW facilities will help us change that.”

The mayor noted now the need is for additional rooftops, homes and apartments so that housing is less of a dilemma for newcomers to the area.

He said construction is under way on houses at Gobbler Hollow, now White Oak, and added two developments - one with 14 houses, the other with 28 - will be built on Cloverdale Road.

&#8220We're making progress,” he said. &#8220We like to think even more opportunities lie ahead and that our future is looking better and better each day.”