EASLEY — Long term planning is a big part of what Pickens County Council Chairman Neil Smith wants to see happen in local government.
Smith expressed some of his ideas and positive changes he sees coming for the county when he spoke recently in a State of the County address to the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce. More than 100 members heard him speak at Dunburk’s Premiere events in downtown Easley.
A new Economic Alliance building is due for a dedication within the coming quarter.
Construction details and rain delays have pushed off the opening but Smith believes the new site will give the county a good location to bring industrial clients to show off the possibilities of locating manufacturing plants and expanding manufacturing in Pickens County.
The site is located at the county’s industrial park along U.S. Highway 123.
The location is one intersection down from the Pickens County Airport which Smith says is under study for expansion.
In long-term planning, Smith believes the airport has made significant progress with the addition within the last five years of a new terminal building. That is important for economic development purposes when heads of manufacturing concerns visit the area.
Expanding the runway opens new opportunities for bigger planes and better safety. He has taken action to help secure property surrounding the airport for future expansion, he told the chamber.
Positive expansion has also taken place in county fire services with investments in new stations and equipment bringing lower fire insurance premiums for rural county residents.
He told the group that he is also positive about the future of the Doodle Line conversion to a recreational greenway.
“I doubt that it will be as successful as the Swamp Rabbit, but it can be a good thing,” Smith said. The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a recreational greenway running from downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest. It has been credited with helping revitalize downtown Travelers Rest. Comparisons have been made to the potential for the Doodle Line between Easley and Pickens.
Smith said he supports an effort to maintain the old Pickens High School, a portion of which could be used as a staging area for activities at the Pickens end of the Doodle line.
He also supports maintaining the former Gettys Middle school for potential sale. “It still has value as a school location,” Smith said. One prospect is a charter school organization called Legacy.
He said he has seen positive results from the Legacy organization that has established a school in an under served blighted area of West Greenville.