Fort Mill Times

They are moving Fort Mill forward

Grow downtown foot traffic.

Increase businesses in the area.

Showcase and teach those who live in Fort Mill - as well as visitors - the town's rich history.

Those are bold initiatives Move Fort Mill Forward is embracing, Wink Rea said.

"Our primary goal is the redevelopment of the downtown area," he said.

To that end, the group will sponsor several events, including Fort Mill Thunder, a popular spring car show, as well as Art on Main in the fall.

"These are events to bring people back into the downtown area," he said. "Art is universally appealing to both the young and old. It's in concert with what the Town of Fort Mill is trying to do with the renovation of the theater and the Art Mill."

The car show is slated for May 23.

Both events also usher another dynamic, he said.

"What we see as one of the issues with downtown Fort Mill is there really isn't a destination," he said. "There's really no reason for motorists to stop and shop."

But Move Fort Mill Forward aims to change that, he said.

In addition to the signature car and art shows, the group also plans to offer other events to foster increased foot traffic. The lineup includes debuting a series of CDs that showcase Fort Mill's history. A CD narrative by J.B. Mills and titled "A Walk Through Historic Fort Mill" was released nearly two weeks ago. The cost is $20. Another one is slated to debut early next year, he said.

Proceeds from the CDs, a projected series of three, as well as revenue from a coffee table book about Fort Mill, will be used to help fund the group's ultimate goal for the downtown area.

"Our ultimate goal is to house a museum of Fort Mill history," he said.

That museum would be anchored in downtown Fort Mill. It would represent yet another beacon to attract locales and visitors alike and could serve as a mechanism to encourage new residents and businesses to settle in Fort Mill.

"We want to assist in the recruiting of additional restaurants and retailers back into Fort Mill," he said. "One of the reasons for having these events is to bring people in to showcase the downtown to potential business owners and individuals who might give future consideration to relocating in downtown Fort Mill."

Town leaders have paved the way in making that possible with recent beautification and infrastructure upgrades, he said.

"Now, it's time for us to assist in bringing back businesses, retailers and additional restaurants and other services to the downtown," he said. "Our focus is to make sure we maintain the economic viability of downtown Fort Mill and at the same time preserve the historic downtown area. We don't want to see the historic downtown nature be compromised in any way."

For information on how you can help and to learn more about the group's short and long term plans for the town, visit the group's Facebook page or go to www.movefortmillforward.com.

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