EASLEY— Each year when New Year’s Day rolls around there’s a renewed hope for the coming year and in government and communities that hope exists as well.
For the city of Easley the outlook for 2014 is going to be one requiring patience according to Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell.
“Easley’s been very fortunate since 2008, believe it or not,” Mayor Bagwell said. “But, just like the last several years we’re going to have to tighten our belts while we address some of the things we need to do as a city to continue to recover.”
Empty store fronts and a need to expand commercially within city limits is a story familiar to small towns across the country and Easley is no different, facing some of the same challenges and hurdles brought about by economic downturn.
“While the city has seen improvement, there are things we still have to do,” Bagwell said. “Working with County Council and local business leaders we’re doing what we can to recruit businesses to our area. Not only that, we regularly visit with our legislators looking for their guidance and help for the community.”
Easley, like so many communities, is in need of economic development in the coming year and Bagwell feels as if there is a strong and consistent effort being made to attract new businesses, either national chain franchises or locally owned concerns. While increased tax revenue won’t solve all of the city’s issues in the new year the momentum it will generate will go a long way.
“Our City Administrator, Fox Simons, is constantly looking for new contacts in the business community, always recruiting new business to the area,” Bagwell said about the city’s efforts. “Not only that, we have four or five big projects underway already that should go a long way in helping bring in some much needed business. We need to find some way to fill the empty stores we have in downtown.”
While it may seem that the outlook for 2014 is somewhat murky there is at least one highlight at this point.
“Housing sales are up headed into the new year,” Bagwell said. “While that’s always a good sign, the commercial development is beginning to slow down despite what highway 123 looks like. There are some opportunities we are always exploring and we have good people recruiting for the area.”
2014 will be a year spent wooing economic development to the city of Easley with no prediction as to how those efforts will play out, but like so many towns at a similar crossroad, the mayor stressed the need to continue the efforts in place and to keep a realistic outlook for the year.
“As a city we are at a standstill,” Bagwell said. “We have to be patient and continue to do what we can to bring new business to Easley.”