We have seen many businesses come and go in the Aiken and Augusta downtown areas. We have downtown associations and revitalization programs that seem to be trying everything, to no avail.
The root of the problem is the cost of rent.
I propose that property owners cut rent costs in half for new businesses during their first year. The second year, the rent goes to 75 percent; the third is full price, agreed on at the time of the contract. This would encourage start-ups by raising the opportunity for success.
It’s been said that it takes three years for a business to be successful – and, quite frankly, isn’t some rent better than no rent at all?
The second part of this plan would encourage property owners to take part in the program. They would, in turn, receive a property tax break on the same three-year scale. The downtown areas would be the pilot program. If it works, spread it to other struggling areas of Aiken and Richmond counties.
North Augusta, S.C.
(The writer is coordinator for the Aiken County Tourism Program.)