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Reimagining Greenville

Like many Greenville natives, Knox White remembers when dilapidated and sometimes vacant storefronts dotted the city’s Main Street. The mall phenomenon had hit the downtown hard, moving car traffic and foot traffic to the other side of town.

Something had to change.

We wanted a walkable, “people-focused” downtown where both tourists and locals would visit often, said White, who has who has served as mayor of the City of Greenville since 1995. “We wanted a downtown that didn’t close up after 5 o’clock.”

After decades of effort by city and community leaders, Greenville and its downtown are now frequently recognized as among the best in America.

White shared memories of Greenville and his vision for the future during a special program, “Reimagining Greenville: A Discussion with Mayor Knox White,” Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Trone Student Center.

The talk, sponsored by Furman’s Community Engagement Initiative and approximately 20 Furman institutes and academic departments, was one of the most co-sponsored events in Furman’s history.

Community Engagement Initiative Student Fellows Chandler Smith and Sean Rusnak ’18 and Community Engagement Initiative Co-Coordinators Hannah Wheeler and Victoria Wornom ’16 planned the event with assistance from Special Advisor for Community Engagement Angela Halfacre and Communication Studies Professor Brandon Inabinet.

The students and various campus co-sponsors hope to expand internship, research and advocacy opportunities with the city. Furman students submitted questions to the mayor that asked about issues the city faces, such as managing growth, constructing affordable housing and recruiting new businesses.

“Collaborating with the City of Greenville is a high priority, and Mayor White is an inspirational leader for our students and community.  Understanding the evolution of Greenville to be a revitalization model for many other communities is exciting,” said Wornom. “We have seen many connection points between the city’s efforts around livability, sustainability, transportation, economic development and social issues and Furman’s strengths through the different centers and institutes, faculty and student research interests and campus organizations.”

Successful partnerships were and continue to be a key part of Greenville’s success, said White. He highlighted key strategic projects for the downtown, including construction of Fluor Field baseball stadium and new retail space, the restoration of the Poinsett Hotel, the removal of Camperdown Bridge and the creation of Falls Park. He sees affordable housing and transportation as two main priorities for the city’s future.

“We hope that Furman students recognize the significance that successful planning can have on a city and community, and they will be inspired to seek opportunities in Greenville during their time at Furman and after they graduate,” said Wornom.

Last updated February 28, 2017
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director