Renovations to Newberry Plaza started last week, beginning with facade work on the shopping center housing Dollar General and Country Clean. The exterior will go from its current royal blue to a more contemporary beige color, and decorative columns will be added.
Owner Wayne Tilson, a Hilton Head developer who purchased the shopping center earlier this year, said at a recent meeting at City Hall he wants to make the center more attractive. With a more appealing exterior, he should be able to attract new stores to the empty spots. He also plans to upgrade the parking lot.
Mr. Tilson still plans to add the movie theater and bowling alley on the left side of the center and had his architect in town in late October to look at various options. The city will continue to encourage Mr. Tilson as he moves forward.
Local economic news is mixed. Unemployment in Newberry County ticked down to 7.4 percent in October, which is lower than the national average and is 9th lowest of 46 counties in South Carolina. A year ago Newberry unemployment was 9.4 perent, and two years ago it was 10.4 percent.
While some companies are expanding, such as Kiswire building a second factory in the county, this one near Prosperity, results for others are more difficult. We were saddened to see Delamaters and the Blue Moon close recently. I encourage you to support our small businesses, especially during the very important holiday season.
There are new businesses starting out, including downtown. Suzanne Shealy is the new owner of Cathy’s Cakery, and she’s added new items, like fresh bread, and expanded the store’s hours. Heaven’s Treasures and Collectibles recently opened in the Mower Building, Denim Express is open at 1308 Main, and The Gallery, a beautiful new art gallery, recently opened in the Lamplighter location on Caldwell Street.
The city is most appreciative of the volunteer efforts of Joyce Vigus, who led the new decorating efforts of the Community Christmas Tree at Community Hall.
Working countless hours, Mrs. Vigus researched trees and lights, raised money and marshaled volunteers and city staff to create a stunning tree that is delighting many.
About 1,000 people attended the tree lighting festivities, and we appreciate the many students that were part of the program.
The Newberry Christmas tree is shown on a WACH Fox Web cam and was even recently shown on a Tucson, Ariz. television broadcast.
The tree lighting kicked off a series of successful holiday events in Newberry, including a well attended and impressive Christmas parade, sponsored by the Jaycees, and a Chamber of Commerce sponsored Tour of Homes that would have made Southern Living magazine proud.
Continuing the festivities, the city and downtown merchants will hold the annual Vintage Christmas festival on Friday, Dec. 14 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with caroling on Main St. and other fun activities.
The city was pleased to be part of Farm-City Week during Thanksgiving. We’re proud Newberry is one of the most important agriculture and agribusiness counties in the state.
In fact when I welcome visiting groups to Newberry, I tell them they’ve probably enjoyed or used an agriculture product from Newberry County.
For example, they might have had milk or eggs from Newberry, as the the county is a state leader in both and ISE is a leading egg supplier. And Newberry farmers are among the state leaders in numerous other categories.
I tell visitors they might have had turkey from the Newberry Kraft plant, which provides all Oscar Mayer sandwich turkey in the U.S.
They may have 2 x 4’s or other wood boards in their home from local lumber factories like West Fraser or Georgia-Pacific as Newberry leads the state in timber production and Newberry wood products are sold at home supply stores across the country.
And if they’ve eaten the popular Red Lobster cheese biscuits, they’ve probably had Newberry County products as the Pioneer factory in Prosperity makes those.
As we move closer to Christmas, we’re thankful to see the many humanitarian efforts taking place, such as coat drives, food drives and gift drives. Thanks to everyone who is making Christmas brighter for someone else.
On behalf of the City of Newberry, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season.