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The_sandlapper

Your thoughts on Columbia

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Iv'e seen this type of thread and it's success on other sites including this one, so I figured what the hay!

Despite being the fastest growing large metro (excluding Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill) during the 90's, and one of the fastest growing in the state as of today (Lexington, Kershaw, Richland all top 10 counties in % growth) Columbia doesn't seem to get credit for what it has accomplished, or for what it is working towards. In all my years growing up there I have not seen as much progression as I have seen there within the past ten years (consistant DT developments, Convention Ctr & hotel, USC research campus, ambition to be a hydrogen research center, two new skyscraperes within years of each other, Colonial Center, USC baseball park, development of the Vista, constant top 50 rating of who's who of American cities from 00-05, etc). There is alot of positive energy going through the capital city, yet somehow it isn't acknowledged for its accomplishments such as Charleston, Myrtle Beach or even Greenville. Is it that we in Columbia have been so use to being the big dog on the block that we expect things of things nature to occur at a whims notice, or is it something else going on? This has been a question that's been on my mind for a while now. I'm just curious what are your thoughts on Columbia, past, present, or future?

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Not being an actual resident of the city (although it is my primary stomping grounds outside of the Charlotte metro area), take my comments for what they're worth.

In some ways, I think that being in relatively close proximity to the largest city in the Carolinas has been to Columbia's disadvantage. However, I believe that captializing on the city's distinctives (ie, state capital, natural boundaries by way of 3 rivers, college town) is what is really beginning to work in Columbia's favor, especially since many of the things it has going for itself are factors which positively affect a city's livability.

I also think that the progress of the entire state is equally as important. We all know that SC isn't really seen as a "progressive" state, especially in comparison to our neighbor to the north. I'm hoping that as our cities do well, a new breed of leaders will come forth to bring vision and positive energy to the political arena as well, and what better place to start than the capital city?

I really believe that Columbia is on the verge of some really BIG things. I'm very proud of my capital city, and I really can't wait to see what the next 10-15 years will bring.

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Krazeeboi makes alot of good points. Despite the fact that Richland County is much more progressive than SC as a whole, the state's rep still holds us back. As long as the Mike Fairs and David Hawkins of the world continue to give our state a bad name, we (as a state) are not going to escape this image.

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I think that Columbia's proximity to Charlotte has a mininimal impact. While Charlotte is an important city, its sphere of influence doesn't reach Columbia.

How do you see Columbia at a disadvantage when it comes to Charlotte?

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I wouldn't really say that the city of Columbia is affected per se, but this would be moreso in the minds of people who live in the Columbia metro area. They see Charlotte as having more opportunities, and in some ways it does, so they relocate, sometimes with no specific reasoning in mind. But I think in a way, it's also to Columbia's advantage, in that it is the closest state capital to Charlotte, and capitals often offer amenities/opportunities that other cities can't or don't.

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Columbia offers everything that Charlotte does in terms of quality of life and entertainment. Charlotte does have bigger malls and different stores than Columbia, but other than that I can't see any difference.

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You are correct in your assessment, but for some reason, some people think that "bigger" is automatically "better." As a matter of fact, I remarked to one of my co-workers recently (who just moved to Charlotte from Sumter) that Charlotte just seems like a bigger Columbia. She agreed.

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Well, Columbia is my first stop in the south, and I do admit that I had some reservations about how life would be down here. Columbia also happens to be the smallest city I have ever lived in. Yes, Columbia is just too small for some, and doesn't yet afford people the same opportunities and outlets as larger cities do. My fiance flat out refused to go at first, but eventually came around when opportunities came up for her down here.

When I first visited Columbia I thought it was nice, but really bland. I remember driving down 26 from the airport up towards Irmo (past Harbison/St. Andrews/Bush River/rt. 1/etc) and just seeing a sea of billboards and car dealerships and fast food, and I thought that I was in GenericTown USA. West Columbia gave me the willies, and eating lunch in Lexington on a Sunday was an, uh, interesting experience.

I was quite relieved when I got to spend some time downtown. There really is a lot down here for a city of this size. Between a major college, two entertainment districs and Main St., I felt like there may be enough here to keep me occupied for a little while. I was disappointed to hear that there wasn't a lot of home ownership options within walking distance to the Vista, but that seems to be changing now. I did have to drive by the capital twice so that my fiance could get a shot of the flag; that and Maurice's really blew her mind, among other things.

All in all, we decided that the ease of daily life, the cost of living, the downtown area and the weather were enough to offset the cultural anomolies that us Yanks weren't used to. However, if it weren't for downtown being at the stage that it is I don't think we would have chosen Columbia over our other options at the time.

Going forward, Columbia has a lot of challenges to overcome to continue the success that it has enjoyed in the last few years. The education crisis is a black eye for the entire state, and that stigma rubs off on business leaders who consider relocating here. I agree with beefing up both the techncial and university system here to not only produce qualified workers, but also prove to the rest of the country that people here are capable of real innovation. If that base is planted, Columbia (as it has stated to) should aim to be a known home to a 'cluster' of similar businesses. Creating a much smaller equivalent of the motor city, or wall street, or silicon valley in a concentration such as hydrogen fuel cells or the like would really bolster the local economy. The tax base would grow substaintially, and the income and job opportunities would trickle down through all economic eschelons. Personally, I think the influx of diverse professionals catering to these businesses both directly and indirectly may help improve the stagnant political climate here. I'm not saying that the state should be overrun by outsiders, but perhaps exposure from a growing minority will spur some of the more antiquated laws to be looked at again.

The foundations are slowly being put into place. I think Columbia officials really need to get out of their chairs and market this city to audiences all across the country. Columbia's influence really doesn't reach far enough to perpetuate itself; we need to get in people's faces and tell them about the great things that are being done here! If we can prove that a qualified workforce exists in Columbia, the low cost of living and the weather may be enough to lure companies here. I think that Columbia can even go so far as to market themselves as an option for outsourcing right here in the US. Companies that may not want/need to make the jump to India or China can come here and find a solid middle ground, controlling costs while keeping work close to home.

Whoa, wrote too much. Food for thought if nothing else :rofl:

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Very true, but how does that detract from Columbia?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

As I stated earlier, it doesn't detract from the city itself, but only certain people's perception of the city in comparison to Charlotte and even Atlanta. I don't have a problem with people wanting a different kind of experience or having better opportunities afforded them and relocating to other cities, but it's not necessary to burn your bridges in the process, so to speak. People should realize that other metros such as Charlotte and Atlanta are in a different tier than Columbia, but even then, Columbia is just about as good as you can get for a city its size. Folks just need some hometown and state pride!

Lastweek, it's good to see an out-of-state transplant's perspective on the issue. As far as marketing the city is concerned, I think you're right on target. I think the officials are slowly beginning to realize that quite simply, Columbia can compete! I really just would like to see some young blood just take the reins and run, not haphazardly, but with wisdom, vision, and insight. And with a major university such as USC in the picture, I pray it won't be long before that happens.

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The foundations are slowly being put into place.  I think Columbia officials really need to get out of their chairs and market this city to audiences all across the country.  Columbia's influence really doesn't reach far enough to perpetuate itself; we need to get in people's faces and tell them about the great things that are being done here!  If we can prove that a qualified workforce exists in Columbia, the low cost of living and the weather may be enough to lure companies here.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Those are exactly my thoughts. Columbia as an underlying city doesn't have anything different than the new boomtowns with major universities in them (RDU, Austin) it's just that those communities began to establish themselves with a niche something unique to that area and grow from that. That is the only difference. I mean really 20 years ago who would have considered Raleigh-Durham a great place to live? These areas really have no physical attributes to attract populations, RDU is stuck in the middle of the fall line 3 hours from the beach or mountains, and correct me if I'm wrong 5-6 hrs. from the next major city (DC, I don't consider Greensboro-Winston-Salem, & Charlotte major cities), Austin is just as hot or hotter than Columbia, and is a liberal stonghold in the middle of conservative state (sound familiar), so they had to make it attractive by establishing a niche and developing that into something nobody else or few had at the time. These places are successful now because of the cheap cost of living, educated populations (were #45 in the nation), relatively unhurried life style of traditional braintowns (New York, Boston, San Fran), & good job opportunities that were created actively and not passively placed..In a sense these cities took action! Many don't know that Columbia today is relatively the size Austin & RDU were 20 years ago.

I'm excitied about Columbia's future becasue I think it is really just beginning to realize its potential and what put's Columbia at an advantage is that it is working aggressively to establish its national niche (hydrogen research). Even before the Research Campus has been built it is already the 5th most creative mid-sized city in the US. Granted there are education problems but there are very good public schools in the area (Keenan, Dreher, Irmo, Chapin, etc.), my sister graduated with several classmates in 04 who were accepted into places like Harvard, & Duke. I hold 3 different degrees (1 masters, & 2 bachelors) will be working on my 2nd master's within a year despite my poor grammar, & mispellings.

Columbia really needs to get the word out there that it has just as much to offer and in many cases more than many of it's peer cities, and I think they are really understanding what a sleeping giant the city is. One of Columbia's problems, and those who grew up ther can relate, is that we have been so use to being the top dog that getting a new addition to the skyline, having a beltway being built, getting a new mall, etc...really isn't a big deal for us. Ex. the research campus being built, "well we kinda expect it we're Columbia afterall", So we have kinda come accustomed to it without trying simply because we are the largest town. Regardless of what (2003) CSA's and (1999) MSA data say in the mind of most Columbians we are the largest city.

It's funny on another forum I posed a question, "who do you think the next southern boom towns will be?" Some were quick to discount Columbia because they felt that the NC metro's (Raleigh, & Charlotte), and ATL would continue to grow and somehow prevent newcomers from moving to other mid-sized southern cities. I always found this type of "reasoning" confusing because that would be discounting the exponential growth of the south, and that somehow these people would only be attracted to these cities and give up once they got there. The south, with it's pleasant weather and cheap cost of living would only continue to attract more out of towners IMO. I really don't see a slow down in any city in the region as long as it prepares itself for what's next. And I see Columbia doing that!

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Hello forum...I just moved to Charlotte about a year ago and I have family in Columbia and to say that Columbia is the same as Charlotte I have to TOTALLY disagree....No Charlotte isn't NY,LA, or CHI but what other cities are....Charlotte is def. a upcoming player in the major cities categories if not already....Columbia isn't on the same level as Raleigh if you really want to compare...I'm not taking anything from Columbia but Charlotte def.. has more to offer than Columbia other tham bigger malls and more people...When I got here the city is very much diverse and there are plenty things to do here it's just that everything is so spreaded out....but Columbia area is doing great things and really I didn't hear about Columbia until I got to VA and stayed there a month ... I always heard about Raleigh,Charlotte and Atl in NY...

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I don't think anyone would argue that Columbia is on the same level as Charlotte. My point is this: name one thing you can do in Charlotte that you can't get the equivilant of in Columbia. The only thing I can think of is NASCAR, and a trolley ride. In terms of quality of life I am arguing that the cities are very much equal.

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No one was saying that Columbia and Charlotte were the same; no two cities are the same. As a matter of fact, I mentioned in a previous post that Charlotte was in a different tier than Columbia. However, I, for one, don't see a major difference between the two cities. One could mention professional sports, but we know that Charlotte has its fair share of fair-weather fans. USC sports in Columbia is quite a bit of a stronghold and has a strong support base from the locals (plus they don't have to worry about the teams picking up and leaving). Columbia also has a world-class zoo, offers river and lake-oriented recreation, and has a major university downtown which only enhances the nightlife. Like Spartan said, just about everything that Charlotte offers, Columbia has an equal.

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Like Spartan said, just about everything that Charlotte offers, Columbia has an equal.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Or superior.

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I have had many people disagree, but the success Charlotte, Austin, Boulder have obtained today can be acheived by Columbia in the near future as well. It's following the same pattern. And as I have stated before many experts see that as well (Forbes, Expansion Mgt, etc...). Cheap cost of living, educated population, beginings of a brainpower economy, The University of South Carolina, close proximity to outdoor destinations (including several in the area), two thriving entertainment districts, riverfront development, Lake Murray, non-congested atomeshpere, and of course signature palmetto trees!

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A while back, a co-worker in Atlanta visited Columbia for a meeting and came back expressing surprise the the city was not much larger and more of a boom town with all of its obvious advantages (three interstates, USC, riverfront location, state government, etc.). I have to echo that opinion. I think Columbia is on the verge of something really big.

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When I first moved to Columbia, I thought I would be as impressed as I was when I first visited the state capital as a kid. Cola was bigger than my hometown when I was growing up. I guess my Air Force travels to other cities around the country and appreciating my hometown more kept me from liking it as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Columbia, but I just don't see what makes it great.

One big thing that affected my opinion of the city was its access to water. Being a quasi-beach-bum that I am, the cities that seem to have more to do and have more excitement are the cities which heavily utilize its water resources. Columbia has several rivers that run by it and has a huge nearby lake, but there is hardly any public access to these areas. Why weren't more lakeside resorts built along Lake Murray? Why aren't there more public beaches to the lake? Why isn't there more emphasis in building riverside parks where people not only can see the river, but can swim in it? This city would have amazing potential to bring in more tourists if it emphasized the area as a lakeside or riverside retreat.

I know I may have some disagreements with this statement, but Cola has by far some of the worst traffic I have seen in this state, especially considering how adequate its infrastructure is. I am amazed that there is no beltway around the city. I think that would significantly improve access to different parts of the city. I live off of Garner's Ferry Road, and if I want to go to Columbiana, I have to drive all the way down I-77 to I-26, then go through a major portion of the urban area to Harbison Blvd, which is one of the most shortsighted developments I have ever seen! That street should be at least 8 lanes to accomodate shopping traffic, and you can tell that developers did not even consider this when they allowed continuous stores and malls to be built.

Crime needs to be reduced in this city, as well. I read in the Free Times that Cola's crime rate is comparable to other cities such as Atlanta...even though Cola is significantly smaller. Also, for a Southern city, I have to say that this has been the least friendly city I have encountered. There have been acceptions, or course, but I never felt as welcome here as I have been in other Southern cities.

I know this is a negative post, and I apologize. Please don't misunderstand me; I have lived in far worth places (Cheyenne, WY!!) and I think Cola is definitely better than other cities. It has a fantastic zoo, good shopping, great museums, better street lighting in some areas, and convenient access to Charlotte (a city that is not similar to nor comparable to Cola). I just don't think it appeals to me as other cities do.

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Columbia has a beltway. It's on the southern and eastern side of the city, and I do agree the city and area really should emphasize public use & development on the river and Lake Murray more, it's like a coal covered diamond.

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When I first moved to Columbia, I thought I would be as impressed as I was when I first visited the state capital as a kid. Cola was bigger than my hometown when I was growing up. I guess my Air Force travels to other cities around the country and appreciating my hometown more kept me from liking it as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Columbia, but I just don't see what makes it great.

One big thing that affected my opinion of the city was its access to water. Being a quasi-beach-bum that I am, the cities that seem to have more to do and have more excitement are the cities which heavily utilize its water resources. Columbia has several rivers that run by it and has a huge nearby lake, but there is hardly any public access to these areas. Why weren't more lakeside resorts built along Lake Murray? Why aren't there more public beaches to the lake? Why isn't there more emphasis in building riverside parks where people not only can see the river, but can swim in it? This city would have amazing potential to bring in more tourists if it emphasized the area as a lakeside or riverside retreat.

I know I may have some disagreements with this statement, but Cola has by far some of the worst traffic I have seen in this state, especially considering how adequate its infrastructure is. I am amazed that there is no beltway around the city. I think that would significantly improve access to different parts of the city. I live off of Garner's Ferry Road, and if I want to go to Columbiana, I have to drive all the way down I-77 to I-26, then go through a major portion of the urban area to Harbison Blvd, which is one of the most shortsighted developments I have ever seen! That street should be at least 8 lanes to accomodate shopping traffic, and you can tell that developers did not even consider this when they allowed continuous stores and malls to be built.

Crime needs to be reduced in this city, as well. I read in the Free Times that Cola's crime rate is comparable to other cities such as Atlanta...even though Cola is significantly smaller. Also, for a Southern city, I have to say that this has been the least friendly city I have encountered. There have been acceptions, or course, but I never felt as welcome here as I have been in other Southern cities.

I know this is a negative post, and I apologize. Please don't misunderstand me; I have lived in far worth places (Cheyenne, WY!!) and I think Cola is definitely better than other cities. It has a fantastic zoo, good shopping, great museums, better street lighting in some areas, and convenient access to Charlotte (a city that is not similar to nor comparable to Cola). I just don't think it appeals to me as other cities do.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Like sandlapper said, we do have a a beltway, called Beltline Blvd. If you mean interstates, I-20, 26, and 77 were designed to act as an interstate loop.

Columbia is very similar to Charlotte, just on a smaller scale. Like I said before, I can think of only two things that you can do there that you can't do here.

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Columbia has a beltway. It's on the southern and eastern side of the city, and I do agree the city and area really should emphasize public use & development on the river and Lake Murray more, it's like a coal covered diamond.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Beltline Blvd. is not a true beltway, IMO. A beltway should be an interstate expressway with certain exits that take you into different parts of the city. Beltline Blvd. is merely a street that goes around the southern and eastern parts with a tremendous amount of stoplights. The interstates of I-20, I-77, and I-26 may give the impression of a loop, but again, it is not a true loop. In order to get around the city, you have to drive far out of the way on one interstate before taking another direction. For instance, to get to Irmo or Lexington from where I live, you have to drive extremely far southeast before getting to I-26, then you have to get on that interchange and go northwest. The other "loop" is to drive excessively northeast on I-77 to get to I-20 before actually heading west.

A beltway or loop should make any distance in a city this size about a 20 minute drive. In fact, to get anywhere around Cola, GOING THE SPEED LIMIT of course, :whistling: takes approximately 30 minutes. If you go to other cities like Cola, you will see these types of beltways. Charleston and Greenville have them, as well as Augusta and Jacksonville (granted, Jax is bigger). Maybe SC 277 could have had its route changed from a I-77 connector to a beltway that starts on Bull Street going DT.

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bcolmap.jpg

Looks like a loop to me B)

Building any other kind of expressway loop would be redundant and a waste of land and taxpayer money. The only place I see the potential for another expressway may be way on the north side of town to connect Irmo/Chapin to Northest Columbia or thereabouts.

Beltline is a beltway; the city has just outgrown it to be used in the capacity you described.

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