North Augusta felt the effects of the recession a little later than most cities, but the future is looking brighter, the city’s administrator said last week.
“It’s slowly picking up,” Todd Glover said of the city’s economy during the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s A.M. Connection breakfast held Aug. 28 at the North Augusta Community Center.
“Although we didn’t have the peaks and valleys that other places in the nation did, we did have a decline. It just happened a little later. I think we’re starting to see a change, an uptick.”
Most of North Augusta’s residential growth has occurred in the area near Interstate 20’s Exit 5, but “until recently, there has not been a lot of economic activity there around Exit 5,” he said.
Officials expect that to change with a Wal-Mart development coming to Edgefield Road. It would be the city’s second Wal-Mart.
“They are serious about it, and I think it’s an honor for a city our size that a corporation like Wal-Mart sees the strength in us to come and locate another store,” Glover said.
The development will include a Wal-Mart that will be about 160,000 square feet with an auto center and a fuel center.
There will also be space for other shops.
According to the developer, it is already more than 50 percent leased, Glover said.
The city also is planning to extend its downtown streetscape themes into the area, which is one of the city’s gateways, to continue the look and feel of North Augusta, he said.
“One of the things we like to say is that when you enter North Augusta you know it,” he said. “When you leave North Augusta you know it.”
The medians will have brick pavers like the ones downtown as well as shrubbery and trees.
“We are making conscious efforts to beautify and landscape those areas,” he said, referring to Interstate 20 Exits 1 and 5.
Glover said he expects North Augusta to continue to see economic growth, making it the place to be in the next few years.
“Things are starting to loosen up. … Businesses are looking to expand, and I think that more and more they are starting to look at North Augusta as an option,” he said.