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Carolindiana

Why Greenville's strengths are strengths

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Hello all. This is my first post and I'm excited about discussing urban planning with people on this forum. I'm a native of Greenville and proud of it, and I currently live in Indiana.

Now that I live in an different part of the country, it's given me a different perspective of where I grew up, and it's raised some questions. I'll elaborate a bit...

In my eyes as a teen-ager and then as a young adult, North & South Carolina always presented a general theme of progress. Today, there are few things that make that sense of progress more obvious than the steadiness of the real estate market in three of those states' largest metros; the Research Triangle, Charlotte, & Greater Greenville have sustained housing values better than the vast majority of the country. The reason is simple: People feel those places are worth their buck, with or without the recession.

Here in Indiana, there are wonderful people and there's progress in some places as well, but for most cites around here, the theme is struggle. More people who get their educations here move elsewhere than people who get their educations elsewhere and then move here (classic brain drain). By contrast, in Greenville, more people are moving in from other communities than moving away; here, few metro areas grow due to anything other than the birth rate. The Rust Belt and closure of factories is normally blamed, but then again, Greenville was once devastated by the collapse of the backbone of its economy, the textile mills. Amazingly, Greenville not only didn't miss a beat; it became a better city.

What do you think Greenville is doing that makes it a draw for new companies & people? How can other places, including Midwestern communities as well as other southern cities, overcome their problems the way Greenville overcame the closure of its mills?

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Just saw that your post was bumped to the second page with no responses, from your first post. Welcome to UP!

Just a few observations I had from my first time to visit Greenville and still have today after living here for several years.

As regards business:

Location has obviously blessed Greenville.....the mid point between the two dominant Southeast cities, Atlanta and Charlotte on I-85.....hard to beat. Greenville has a "can do" attitude. Even when companies fail here, they seem to pick up the pieces and reinvent themselves.....failure is not something area people seem to be frightened by. The city and citizens tend to reach out for business.....look at history......the Upcountry History Museum has a quote by a pastor from the 1800's about Greenville being pro business...something to the effect that Monday through Saturday Greenvillians are all business and then on Sunday they break to go to church to pray for more business. In the 50's and 60's when Greenville was a mill town, local leaders including Charles Daniel went North to encourage companies to open or move to Greenville. Greenville just seems to have a long line of being pro business.

As regards personal / quality of life:

While obviously Greenville doesn't suit everyone, it seems more love the place than those who don't. It has 4 pretty true seasons (especially when compared to many other Southern cities).....you get to experience hot summers, beautiful cool falls, one or two snows/ice per winter and a long, beautiful spring. Just minutes into the mountains, beautiful lakes nearby, 3 hours to the beach, the topography goes from flat to rolling to mountainous, great downtown, diverse international culture, good cost of living, etc, etc. The many individual positive qualities add up to one overall very high quality of life.

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gsupstate,

thanks for replying!

I think you hit the nail on the head in mentioning Greenville's "pro business" attitude. That's what helped the city make a smooth transition from mill town to a more diversified economy. I've noticed that Midwestern cities that are progressing well tend to have similar attitudes. For example, just as G'ville has revitalized downtown and expanded the Palmetto Expo Ctr., Indy has also revitalized and is expanding its convention center. As GM phased out, Eli Lilly grew. Sadly, Indy seems to be an exception in the Midwest, whereas Greenville seems to be more of the "rule."

None of this is to pretend that everything in Greenville is rosy. It does bother me that Greenville has been bragging about its progress while critical problems such as poverty, crime, and low median incomes have yet to be addressed. (And that includes many years before this recession.) The rapid consumption of land while older areas deteriorate is another well-documented problem, although none of these problems are unique to Greenville.

Still, Greenville has much to be thankful for. I miss the people, I miss the accents, I miss the attitudes, I miss the many wonderful places in the area, and I miss the mild winters as much as anything. :)

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I'm actually early in my studies towards a Master's in urban planning, and it's led me to a few questions I had never considered before. I'd like to learn the opinions people in Greenville might have to those questions:

How much more encouraging must it be to work as an urban planner in a place like Greenville (or Raleigh or another stable, growing market) compared to an area that is in "decline"?

How can a mid-sized Midwestern city enjoy the progress Greenville has without the great climate or topography?

Worse yet, how do you make progress happen when said city has been decaying economically for decades?

(I refuse to name specific cities, but I think most of us have a general understanding of which cities are in the Rust Belt and of the troubles they've experienced.)

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I'm actually early in my studies towards a Master's in urban planning, and it's led me to a few questions I had never considered before. I'd like to learn the opinions people in Greenville might have to those questions:

How much more encouraging must it be to work as an urban planner in a place like Greenville (or Raleigh or another stable, growing market) compared to an area that is in "decline"?

How can a mid-sized Midwestern city enjoy the progress Greenville has without the great climate or topography?

Worse yet, how do you make progress happen when said city has been decaying economically for decades?

(I refuse to name specific cities, but I think most of us have a general understanding of which cities are in the Rust Belt and of the troubles they've experienced.)

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