Aiken Together Strategic Plan
2016-2020

Since its founding in 1835, the City of Aiken has held a front row seat to some of the most formative and pivotal events in the history of our nation. Those events shaped the rich history of Aiken. Today, it is our responsibility as a community to ensure that this history is preserved and carefully passed along to future generations. Aiken Together is a five-year initiative that will not only commemorate Aiken’s past…but will also ensure that Aiken’s past plays a key role in its future.

Aiken Together will take the lead in telling the story of these three vital chapters in the history of Aiken and Aiken County, and will ensure that the events from our past continue to cultivate a thriving community for years to come. Aiken Together will achieve these lofty goals through the completion of three separate facilities in Aiken – each of which will focus on a unique chapter in the history of our city and county.

These facilities – The Center for African-American History, Art and Culture, The Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum, and the Savanah River Site Museum – are each located in downtown Aiken. Completing these three facilities will enhance the diverse cultural, historic, and recreational offerings that make Aiken a distinctive place to live and work.

 

In looking back at the events that have helped to create the Aiken that we call home, Aiken Together will offer a unique opportunity to write the next chapter in Aiken’s history. Through an investment in Aiken Together our neighbors, businesses and community leaders will be able to leave their mark on Aiken through a variety of unique investor recognition and naming opportunities while investing in the future of our community. Aiken Together will leave a legacy that future generations will celebrate for years to come.

I. Education

Through the completion of three unique museums – The Center for African-American History, Art and Culture, The Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum, and the Savannah River Site Museum – Aiken Together will provide lifelong learning opportunities for adults, students and children of all ages. In order to offer these unique and powerful learning opportunities to families and students from Aiken and surrounding areas each museum must:

A. Develop and design exhibits that are informative and engaging.
B. Align the exhibits and features of each facility with curriculum standards to ensure their relevance and utility to schools locally and regionally.
C. Offer three unique educational experiences in the Aiken area.

Goals:
• Engage more than 45,000 students over the next five years.
• Develop 10 new curriculum kits to be housed at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken for use by area students.
• Include one or more of the museums as a component of the curriculums of 15 school districts within a 50-mile radius of Aiken.
• Establish partnerships with 4 colleges and universities within 50 miles of Aiken.

II. Economic Vitality

Aiken’s rich history can and should play an important role in its future. These chapters from our past must not be relegated simply to the exhibits and stories. They can also play a powerful role in our future. Aiken Together will support three unique attractions to downtown Aiken. These facilities will draw people and business into Aiken’s city center, revitalize the downtown area and enhance the economic vitality for all businesses in the greater Aiken area. The impact on the greater Aiken area will include:

A. Restore public access to iconic historical sites in downtown – the Immanuel Institute and Dibble Memorial Library.
B. Expand the exhibits and amenities at the Aiken Railroad Depot.
C. Bolster the retail economy in downtown Aiken by exposing guests from out of town and around Aiken County to downtown Aiken’s many offerings in retail, dining, history, the arts and recreation.

Goals:
• More than 175,000 guests will visit the three venues over five years, more than 65% from outside of Aiken County.
• Increase off-peak tourism in Aiken by 20% over five years.
• Generate in excess of $10 Million in new revenue for Aiken businesses.
• Develop more than $800,000 in state and local tax revenues over the next five years.
• Work with City Leaders and economic developers to expand downtown Aiken retail and dining core by five blocks.

III. Quality of Life

The Quality of Life is critically important in every community. From our schools, to our businesses, to our governance, to our community values…all are important to us, our families and our neighbors. Aiken Together will enhance our sense of community by drawing from our past accomplishments to engage our young people and adults to build on that success for the future. The success of this initiative will provide new cultural and educational opportunities, establish new venues for recreation, and create in Aiken a unique sense of place and destination unlike any other community in South Carolina and the Southeast. Aiken Together will:

A. Provide three unique new recreation opportunities with areas of focus that are not otherwise present across the region.
B. Enhance Aiken’s ability to attract young families, corporate and civic leaders, and new business and industry.
C. Improve livability and expand walkability of downtown parkways and commercial district to increase residential development.

Goals:
• A minimum of 35% of Aiken County residents will visit the museums over the next five years.
• The three venues will host or participate in 12 local festivals or events each year.
• Over the first five years of operation, downtown Aiken residential development will increase 15%.

IV. Marketing and Communications

Aiken must enhance its image as a community that is both in tune with its heritage and focused on its future. We have much for which we are thankful and much upon which we can continue to build. Great people, a beautiful community, abundant natural resources, strong family values and a superlative work ethic are just a few of the things that make the Aiken area great. Working together, we will re-define Aiken as a unique destination where people will want to visit, work, live and raise a family. Over the next five years, through Aiken Together, we will:

A. Establish Aiken as a top tourist destination in South Carolina and the Southeast.
B. Keep Aiken Together shareholders informed of the progress of this initiative.
C. Recognize Aiken Together shareholders for their support of this initiative.
D. Offer special naming opportunities for recognition of top investors.

Goals:
• Appear in 12 regional, state or national publications over the next five years.
• Host annual Aiken Together shareholder meetings.
• Hold “Grand Opening” celebrations at each of the new museums when completed.
• Distribute quarterly Aiken Together newsletters to shareholders and the Aiken community documenting the progress of each of the museums.