One week ago, dozens of Huntsville leaders made a special fact-finding trip to Greenville, South Carolina. They wanted to get a better idea of what's working for Greenville's downtown.
Talk about downtown development sometimes brings concerns other areas of the city could be neglected. However, in Greenville's case, improving downtown helped the entire city.
When Greenville began its rebirth decades ago, it was only natural to start where the town's founders first tamed the land.
"Downtown is really the place where any city is founded," said Mary Jane Caylor of Huntsville's Big Spring Partners.
Downtown provides the beating heart of Greenville, but the people are its lifeblood. One of the city's keys to success is keeping pedestrian traffic on the move.
Keeping people flowing through downtown keeps the dollars flowing in to city coffers.
"One of the clearest things about the success of downtown Greenville is it's become a magnet for investment," said Mayor Knox White. "We're getting a lot of investment for residential, retail, and office in our community."
While downtown serves as city center, but it doesn't exclude the rest of the city. In fact, it attracts interest that benefits all of Greenville's residents.
"In terms of recruitment of major businesses, international as well as domestic, downtown Greenville itself and its appeal to people and businesses is bringing business here," said White.
Downtown Greenville's numerous events and inviting atmosphere draw crowds from all over the Carolinas. It's a testament to the strength of this city's heart.
"Downtown belongs to everybody. It's not just the folks that live within a mile or so," said Phillip Dotts, a financial advisor in Huntsville. "Downtown is the core of the city. It represents the heartbeat of the city in my view."