That’s the conclusion to be drawn from the assessment and analysis of the city’s downtown business district drawn up by the Union County Chamber of Commerce. The assessment covers an area running along Main Street from Wallace Thomson Hospital to the Union County YMCA as well as sections of south and north Enterprise, Herndon, Pinckney, Gadberry, Mountain and Church Streets. It’s findings paint an impressive picture of an area that remains the commercial heart not only of the city itself but Union County as a whole with plenty of potential for additional development.
Among the findings of the assessment are that downtown Union has 727,000 square feet of commercial, office and retail space with approximately 16 percent of it available for lease or sale. More than 40 service-related businesses are in downtown Union and the area is home to county and municipal government offices as well as USC-Union and the Union County Museum. More than 1,000 people work in the downtown area.
The assessment has been described as a tool for developing and growing the area and that’s as it should be. Development — especially successful development that brings positive benefits to the entire community — does not occur in a vacuum. New business and/or the expansion of existing business must be recruited, planned for and promoted. All this requires information that provides an accurate and up-to-date picture of the area being touted for development and reasons why business should locate or expand there.
Unlike downtowns in so many municipalities, Union’s remains vital and viable because of the support it has received from the chamber, the public sector, the private sector and the the community as a whole. Efforts have been made to adapt the downtown area to changing economic and social conditions and on the whole they’ve been successful. The assessment is the next step in this ongoing effort and we’re confident it will be as successful as past efforts to meet the needs of downtown Union and enable it to continue meeting the needs of the people of Union County and those from outside our county who come here to shop, to sightsee, to visit or, better yet, to live and do business here.
Much development has occurred outside downtown Union and Union itself, particularly along the US 176 Corridor. We applaud this development and hope to see more of it in the future. Despite this, downtown Union remains the heart of Union County and, as is the case of any other living organism, the health of the heart is the health of the body. We need to keep our heart healthy and the assessment — and the development it sets the stage for — can help us do that.