Mayor gives passionate State of City Address

Published 5:18 pm Friday, February 20, 2015

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon threw a curve ball to visitors of Thursday night’s Greenville Area of Commerce Member Banquet with his State of the City Address.

For the past several years, McLendon’s address concerned where Greenville residents are going, what business and industry prospects had been lined up for the upcoming year and the chances of landing those prospects.

This year, however, McLendon opted to look back instead.

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“I’m not going to make any promises or predictions about any businesses coming to Greenville,” McLendon said.

“I’m not going to tease you with hints about industrial or business prospects we’ve been in contact with.  Tonight, I’m going to ask you to do me a favor.  I’m going to ask you to take the time to reflect with me on where we’ve been as a community and the journey it took to get where we are today.”

Part and parcel of that reflective process was in recalling the bumpy road to a prosperous Camellia City, including a double-digit unemployment rate in the late ‘90s.

McLendon pointed toward three things that were pivotal in revitalizing Greenville:  Interstate 65, Cambrian Ridge and, most important, the residents of Greenville themselves.

“We didn’t give up.  We didn’t quit,” McLendon added.

“We didn’t just believe that our community recovered; we believe that we would recover and be better than before, and we did.”

McLendon dug even further back into the Camellia City’s past to recall a Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce slogan from the 1970s and 1980s, titled “Greenville on the Grow.”

He added that it was a phrase that captured the spirit of the city perfectly; moreover, it’s a phrase that’s just as important now as it was four decades ago.

“Thirty or 40 years later, you don’t see those bumper stickers and signs any more.  That marketing campaign is a faint memory for a  lot of us.  But the spirit of that slogan lives on,” McLendon said.

“Bumper stickers fade, but dreams don’t die.”

McLendon did spare a few minutes to look hopefully toward the future, citing the expansive growth of the downtown area in recent years as an example of Greenville residents’ cast-iron will.

“Are we where we want to be?  No.  We have a long way to go, and I’m far from satisfied,” McLendon said.

“But we’re closing the gap.  Two decades ago, we were begging people to invest in this community, praying that they would see what we saw in Greenville.  I’m happy to say that’s not the case today.”