Since the early 1990′s, the city of Greer, SC has tripled in population and quadrupled in size. Mayor Rick Danner has been there for much of this change.
“We were growing at such a rapid rate that we were losing our sense of community, that small town feel,” Danner says in an interview with Smart Growth America. “And there was an overwhelming desire to be able to retain this sense of uniqueness that comes with the feel of a small town regardless of what size it is or population that it is. And we knew that the heart of that was going to be the downtown area.”
Danner decided to lead by example. Under the Mayor’s leadership, Greer made the choice to build its new city hall building in the heart of downtown, overlooking a 12 acre park – instead of putting it away from the downtown and near the freeway. The new building has become a focal point of life in the city, but they didn’t stop there. Mayor Danner together with the Greer Chamber of Commerce formed the Partnership for Tomorrow which is helping downtown Greer become a flourishing destination.
“It was supported by the entire community. It wouldn’t have been successful without the merchants that were located along the highway corridor believing that it was important that we revitalize downtown. What we find now is that by creating this sense of community folks are more likely to come downtown and eat supper, come downtown to shop than they are to go to another community.”
Mayor Danner is a member of the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, a nonpartisan group of municipal officials who share a passion for building great towns, cities, and communities. Earlier this month, Mayor Danner presented the story of Greer’s revitalization at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Kansas City, MO.