North Augusta 2000, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the future of North Augusta, has finished its 2012-2016 strategic plan after receiving input from the community in the fall.
Executive Director Kathy Gilliland said that out of 1,000 people surveyed, about 27 percent responded. The largest request by residents was to revitalize downtown North Augusta on Georgia Avenue and to bring in more upscale restaurants.
The group is now fundraising to meet its goal of $1.5 million by the end of 2012 to be used in the next five years on projects set by the group with guidance from the community.
With the past two strategic plans, North Augusta 2000 hired professionals to help with fundraising. For the 2012-2016 plan, they have saved money by having North Augusta resident Swain Morris act as director of investor relations. The money saved will be used on initiatives, Gilliland said.
"We thought it was extremely important to have someone local who understands the impact of the initiatives to go out to local businesses to work with us in this fundraising campaign," Gilliland said.
In the past, corporations have heavily funded North Augusta 2000's initiatives. Tom Greene, chairman and past mayor of North Augusta, said they are hoping to have more individuals invest in North Augusta's future.
"Our goal is to expand our base of investors and include people who don't have to give a lot of money, just give some money, but have some interest in what's going on and know what North Augusta 2000 is doing," Morris said.
Gilliland added that "You don't have to give $20,000 to make a difference in what we are trying to accomplish to make North Augusta a better community to live, work and play."
The goal is to preserve the quality of North Augusta while growing as needed.
"We are very fortunate to still be able to have that," Morris said. "North Augusta is a unique community that has somewhat stayed up with the growth but also kept somewhat of a small-town atmosphere and there's a lot of places in the United States you can't do that with. What we are able to accomplish with North Augusta 2000 is that sense of community that a lot of places don't have anymore."
Gilliland noted that the city has become what it is because of the great partnership between local government, the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce and North Augusta 2000. The nonprofit was able to purchase land that was later sold to the city to build its new Municipal Building on Georgia Avenue.
North Augusta 2000 only exists through donations.
"The main purpose for North Augusta 2000 is to receive money for us to be able to do things that the city cannot do, does not want to do or have the manpower to give to that project or initiative," Morris said.
In The Vision Continues 2012-2016 plan, North Augusta 2000 will look at:
• Community development: expanding economic development while preserving the quality of life that makes North Augusta special;
• Development of a downtown hotel conference facility in the Town Center area;
• Creation of a downtown master plan: “… Will depict the future downtown, present new economic development opportunities, stimulate investment in downtown and transform downtown into a vital part of the life of the citizens of North Augusta.”;
• Develop incentives for the renovation or development of new small businesses in downtown;
• Look at improving areas that enter the city, such as Edgefield Road, Jefferson Davis Highway, Fifth Street Bridge and I-20;
• Collaborate with the city and chamber to promote an environment for new businesses, such as restaurants, that are wanted by residents;
• Continue existing education programs such as distribution of books to children in the community (Reading Readiness) , teaching Real Life 101 to high school students, career development for middle/high school students, basic life skills for adults and advancing school technology;
• Continue Leadership North Augusta, a program that develops young leaders in the area;
• Annual small grants provided to neighborhood associations and community improvement organizations to improve areas;
• Explore possibility of a senior citizens center;
• Continue to support the Greeneway Trust, founded by the organization, to support the Greeneway trail system;
• Explore the idea of a boathouse to connect the river to North Augusta;
• Explore the creation of Hamburg Park on land near US 1;
• Look at creation of a public, community swimming pool
“If you don’t work at it, you are going to lose it, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Morris said. “We are trying to make sure the heritage of North Augusta is not only saved but is made better.
To view a complete listing of the 2012-2016 initiatives, view the brochure at www.northaugusta2000.org. If interested in making a donation, call Gilliland at (803) 510-0011 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.