MARION, S.C. (WMBF) - Marion is one of several Pee Dee cities given new life in recent years.
Stephanie Rizzo, Executive Director of the Historic Marion Revitalization Association, said they saw what neighboring cities were doing and decided to bring those ideas to Downtown Marion.
“Such as Hartsville, they had a sign and paint grant and we said we really liked that, and they were very willing to share their ideas,” Rizzo said.
The HMRA created its own grants to help business owners enhance their storefronts and signage.
“Over the last three years, a lot of our progress has come through our façade grant program, and so we give money to our downtown businesses because we see the value in investing in our businesses already here as well as fixing up the empty buildings to attract new businesses to come here,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo said they only gave out two façade grants their first year.
Now they’ve provided more than 45 grants with 11 in progress.
Barbara Mathews and her husband took full advantage of the grants when they opened up the Fudge Shoppe last summer.
“Knowing that support is there and that they’re utilizing it to fix up the downtown area to make it a nice charming place to walk and raise your children,” Mathews said.
Grants aren’t the only thing making Downtown Marion what it is.
“So we’re doing late night shopping hours the first Thursday of every month,” Rizzo said. “So businesses stay open until 7 p.m. and restaurants stay open later if they’re open in the evening, and we’re hoping to incorporate food trucks downtown to add another layer to the experience.”
Downtown Marion’s revitalization isn’t done yet, either.
Rizzo said over the next several years they hope to add even more to the Historic District.
“We’re looking to bring in more restaurants, possibly brewery, or a bar to build up more nightlife that we don’t have a ton of right now so that’s the next steps of what we’re looking at doing,” Rizzo said.