Dorchester County towns undergoing retail market study

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Local leaders in Dorchester County are taking a proactive approach to attracting new businesses to the area.

For the next year, towns like Summerville, Hardeeville, Ridgeville, and St. George are undergoing a retail market study to determine where people are spending their money.

“We are aware there are gaps in products and services that are needed by our community members that require them to travel sometimes great distances to receive,” said Rita Berry, the president and CEO of the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce. "As our area continues to grow, it is our goal to be intentional in targeting the businesses that are not only a good match for us, but that will also serve a catalyst for other businesses to prosper. Being proactive and getting out in front of the growth and development is critical to protecting the unique character that we all love and appreciate in Summerville and Dorchester County.”

You can already see changes happening as Summerville evolves to fit its multiplying community. Part of that is renovating Hutchinson Square, the center of the town’s downtown, main street district.

“The redesign features a raised pavilion and an entrance sign over the corner of the park at Main St. and Doty Ave. The pavilion and sign were inspired by the historic train depot that existed near Hutchinson Square in the early 1900s and the archway that once spanned Main St. near Hwy. 78. The renovations include new oak trees, new landscaping, sidewalks, and a fountain. Lighting has been updated and Little Main St. was resurfaced,” town officials said in a press release.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovation is set to happen Friday, March 1 at 6pm.

“We remodeled for the future but kept elements of our history and charm as well,” Doyle Best, Summerville’s Parks & Recreation Director, said.

“I believe a successful renovation should provide long-term benefits to the community,” Colin Martin, Summerville Town Administrator, said. “This project is an important step forward in providing a vibrant future for the town of Summerville.”

The retail study will add to this effort.

“There’s a lot here, and the study is really to go over what works well here and be able to bring businesses to the area so people who live here and want to live here have options for where they want to shop and eat." said Mary Edwards, the public information officer for the town of Summerville.

Summerville town leaders are also working to hire an economic development coordinator to focus on this proactive approach. The position has been approved, according to Edwards, but the hiring process has not started.

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