Winnsboro leaders seek to cultivate quality of life

WINNSBORO – With inflation hindering economic growth in the U.S. and South Carolina, the town of Winnsboro hasn’t been immune either.

In the last six months, the town has lost two banks, a retail antique shop, an ice cream store and boutique.

Winnsboro leaders say these setbacks further illustrate why they are being proactive in their efforts to further cultivate the town’s business and industrial climate.

“We’re in the quality of life business,” said Town Manager Jason Taylor. “It helps build tax value. Your property values go up, which means your wealth goes up.”

Through a series of grants and strategic annexations, the Town of Winnsboro hopes to foster economic growth that will benefit the town’s residents.

“Most people’s wealth is tied to their houses,” Taylor said. “When your home value goes up, your wealth goes up. One thing leads to another.”

To that end, the town’s strategy is inspired by similar efforts already underway in Bishopville, which recently received a $928,000 grant to enhance its wastewater treatment system, according to a news release from the Santee Lynches Council of Governments.

The Pee Dee town also received about $428,000 to help demolish and redevelop a dilapidated part of the town, according to the Midlands Council of Governments

Like Bishopville, Winnsboro is taking steps to address its wastewater system as well. Taylor said the town government is applying for a $10 million grant, which requires a $3 million local match. Town council unanimously passed a resolution last month to provide that match.

The money would fund improvements to the town’s wastewater treatment plant to increase capacity from 4 million to 6 million gallons per day.

 Winnsboro leaders are also seriously looking into ways to revitalize the downtown area.

“We need to do something to address the closed businesses and empty buildings in our downtown area,” Taylor said.

Winnsboro Mayor John McMeekin recently formed a committee to explore redevelopment options.

Further, the town has already budgeted $150,000 toward revitalization with the hope of applying for up to $1 million in additional grants.

“We’re looking at targeted investment in downtown, whether that involves purchasing and rehabbing buildings, or building public-private partnerships to get some of the buildings in the condition where they can be used for businesses,” Taylor said. “When you spend dollars in your community, it helps build your economy instead of a neighboring town’s economy.”

Annexation is another strategy the town is pursuing.

Since Taylor became town manager last summer, Winnsboro officials estimate about 90 properties have been annexed into the town.

Every time a property is annexed, its water and sewer rates are reduced. Those homes also gain access to trash pickup.

Most S.C. municipalities levy significantly higher rates on unincorporated water and sewer customers. In Winnsboro, too, the non-resident rate is roughly double resident rates, Taylor said.

The short-term goal is to consolidate the town’s borders by plugging “doughnut holes,” or unincorporated properties surrounded by the town. Taylor said these targeted annexations allow the town to more efficiently provide services, such as trash pickup and public safety.

Long term, the goal is to start incorporating properties conducive to economic development.

“As you expand your boarders, you run into properties that are undeveloped, but that have the potential to be developed,” Taylor said. “If you annex some of those tracts, you can provide water and sewer at a cheaper rate, so it makes those properties less expensive to develop commercially.”

The goal of the town leaders’ efforts, Taylor says, is for the town, its residents, businesses and industries, to thrive and prosper.


  1. Darrell says

    You wrote in article “The money would fund improvements to the town’s WASTEWATER treatment plant to increase capacity from 4 million to 6 million gallons per day”.
    Isn’t this a mistake? Isn’t the town trying to expand capacity at their WATER treatment plant? This is repeated in two places in article. Big difference in these two words. Thanks

  2. Lori A Kurtz says

    When are the officials going to address the real issues why businesses are vacating the Boro. CRIME, DRIVE BY’S, MURDER. Nothing is ever going to change there until the crack downs are done on these repeat offenders. You can’t tell me that WPD, FCSO don’t know who these people are. What business would want to operate a safe business in a town overrun by thugs.

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