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Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

​Each year, Main Street South Carolina recognizes members' achievements and successes in downtown revitalization.

2024 Inspiration Awards Application

2023 Award Recipients

Excellence on Main Street Award

Gaines Jontz Rehabilitation Award
Main Street Laurens – Bailey Building, Gary and Apryl Bailey

 The historic courthouse square in Laurens — the site of concerted revitalization efforts by the City of Laurens and Main Street Laurens — is home to the Bailey Building, a prominent structure dating to 1907 and once known as the Palmetto Bank Building. Its upper floors became vacant in the 1970s, and had grown dilapidated.  
In 2020, Gary and Apryl Bailey bought the building to provide a new home for their expanding accounting firm, ultimately renovating it through a $2.5 million investment, made possible thanks to historic tax credits, a designation under the tax-freezing Bailey Bill — named for an unrelated lawmaker — and abandoned buildings credits. Between rising construction costs and a wider project scope, renovation costs far exceeded the Baileys’ original $500,000 renovation budget, and so they pursued additional loans to make the project work.   

The Baileys underwent two years of meticulous work in partnership with the city, Main Street Laurens, the SC State Historic Preservation Office, Greenway Construction and In-Site Designs. The building now has two street-level storefronts, and Love Bailey CPAs on the second floor. Its top floor, once a Masonic hall, now houses the Palmetto Room, an event space overlooking the courthouse. The building now has historically appropriate fixtures, a display of hand-lettered office doors from its past and a mural celebrating its former role as a bank.  

The Bailey Building now stands as a testament to the power of public-private partnerships in preserving iconic community structures.  

Contact or 864.984.2119.   


Inspiration Awards

Outstanding Partnership 
Downtown Florence – Francis Marion University Kelley Center for Economic Development

The Florence Downtown Development Corporation’s North Dargan Innovation Center, a startup incubator space, struggled to gain traction with entrepreneurs. Aiming to make it more sustainable and effective, the Downtown Florence Main Street program partnered with Francis Marion University to advance the center’s mission.  

FDDC provided a physical space, a renovated downtown storefront, while the university provided personnel including an executive director, grant-funded training programs, on-site mentorship with professionals and other support services. With its new support, the center grew into the multi-campus Kelley Center for Economic Development. The Main Street program subsidizes rent for Kelley Center graduates for up to two years for businesses in the program area.  

In its new form, the Kelley Center has helped bring about several new small businesses in downtown Florence, ranging from a dance studio to food service businesses and a marketing agency. It played an instrumental role in supporting Florence’s downtown grocery store, which has eliminated a food desert.  

Contact Hannah Davis at or 843.678.5912.  

Outstanding Promotion  
Downtown Florence – Downtown Florence Restaurant Week 2022

Seeking to establish itself as a dining and entertainment destination, Downtown Florence established its Restaurant Week in 2018. After a two-year break as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it returned in 2022 and was timed to coincide with another successful event: Tap into Downtown, a retail-focused brew crawl.  

The event brought together 11 of the district’s 14 restaurants and enjoyed promotional and coordination support from Downtown Florence’s advisory board as well as the SC Restaurant and Lodging Association. A $10,000 budget for the event came from the revenue of other events as well as the district’s hospitality tax allocation. Promotions shifted from Florence’s typical focus on the Myrtle Beach region to the Columbia designated market area because of its greater focus on independent restaurants.  

Thanks to improved data collection, Downtown Florence tracked 20% higher foot traffic in the district compared to 2021 as well as increased restaurant sales during an ordinarily slow in mid-September.  

Contact Hannah Davis at or 843.678.5912. 
Master Merchant 
Downtown Sumter – Jay Davis

The owner of Coldwell Banker Commercial Cornerstone Realty, Jay Davis has been recruiting businesses to downtown Sumter and renovating storefronts since 2008.  

He has helped bring in businesses to several properties he owns throughout the downtown, including a fine men’s clothing store, brought in from Charleston, as well as a high-end women’s clothing boutique, and interior design firm and a fitness center. He has used his real estate expertise to help draw in businesses to locations beyond his properties as well, including a gift shop, an architectural and engineering firm, a barber shop, another real estate agency and a brewery.  

Davis also participates in Downtown Sumter promotions, like the Sip and Stroll event which benefits Sumter Senior Services. He has made himself a major player in the revitalization of a downtown district that is increasingly stocked with small businesses.  

Contact Leigh Newman at or 803.436.2635.  

Outstanding Business Development Program  
Uptown Greenwood – Uptown Greenwood ARPA Grant Program 

Aiming to encourage exterior improvements of commercial properties and improve the overall vibrancy of the community’s business districts, the City of Greenwood partnered with Uptown Greenwood to provide both façade grants and digital marketing grants, all using American Rescue Plan Act funds.  

The program offered 10 competitive façade grants of $5,000 each, evaluated according to the potential for increasing property values, the potential for finding new uses for vacant buildings; reducing blight; the track record of businesses; the impact on the neighborhood; a signed lease from a viable tenant; and economic development potential, such as job creation. The 10 digital marketing grants of $2,500 helped businesses seeking to improve their digital presentation, as pandemic disruptions revealed digital presence shortcomings in business websites, online advertising and social media.   

Many grant recipients who came to question whether their business should continue during the pandemic expressed appreciation for the support from the city and a newfound passion for their enterprises.   

Contact Lara Hudson at or 864.942.8448.