Livability and the Leadership Greenville Legacy Project

Posted by: Ben Haskew on Friday, September 13, 2013
For four decades, the Greenville Chamber has run one of the most successful leadership development programs in the nation. Leadership Greenville has not only mentored and developed the skills of more than 1,800 people including business leaders, community leaders, judges and elected officials, but it also has transformed our region physically and culturally. Leadership Greenville projects have included developing programs for at-risk students, developing the Reedy River corridor project, building numerous parks including the Cleveland Park dog area and the Children’s Park at Linky Stone, creating a downtown teen center and promoting bike use. The strength of Leadership Greenville can be shown by a record number of applicants and a record number of groups seeking to become LG projects in 2013. With that kind of legacy heading into our 40th anniversary, the Greenville Chamber leadership along with the volunteers who help steer Leadership Greenville wondered how we could best celebrate those achievements while letting the community know the best is yet to come. Instead of just holding a party, we decided to create something with a lasting impact for the community. That is how Leadership Greenville Legacy was born. Our big idea is a 10-year initiative for Leadership Greenville classes along with alumni of past classes to focus on creating and connecting parks and trails throughout the Greenville community.  Many groups and organizations have made investments of time and resources to develop a wide array of parks, trails and green spaces.  We applaud their efforts and want to add measurably to what has already been done. In order to make Greenville one of the most appealing and livable areas in the country, a commitment to improving, increasing and interconnecting area greenspaces and trails is essential. The initiative’s goal is to take many of the existing programs and plans aimed at trails and parks in Greenville and create the groundswell of public support to make them possible. During the course of the project, Leadership Greenville Legacy will provide updates to the community on goals created and met as well as finding ways to get the entire community involved. The first year of the Leadership Greenville Legacy project will focus on developing short and long term goals as well as working with the numerous community partners on implementing strategies. Some of the short-term goals include selecting three existing trails or parks  to improve and complete the projects within the first three years of the initiative; unite with departments and groups already working on trails and greenspace efforts in Greenville and begin to raise funds for future new trail and/or greenspace construction efforts. So, why trail and parks? It comes down to what can be best described as livability. Today, the attractiveness of a community is gauged by many around quality of life issues such as the number of trails and overall walkability of the community. Greenville has been cited again and again for its growing trail system that is anchored along the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail. Leadership Greenville Legacy will allow us to build on the success of a successful trail system. There are a lot of fantastic plans for parks and trails in Greenville. Leadership Greenville Legacy’s goal is to unite them and be the resource to make them realities. From an economic standpoint, a positive correlation exists between dedicated greenspaces/trails and property values. From a community health standpoint, the Centers of Disease Control has determined that creating and improving places to be active can result in a 25 percent increase in the number of people who exercise at least three times a week. The collective power of Leadership Greenville Alumni along with future classes over the next decade can make a real difference for our community.  After all, we have forty years of success that paves the way.

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