1. What is the Aiken Downtown Development Association?
"The purpose of the association is to improve the economic vitality, enhance the beauty and preserve the historical inheritance of downtown Aiken."
2. Is the association a part of the city government or does it operate independently?
"Although ADDA does receive some financial support from the city of Aiken, we are an independent organization run by a board of directors and advised by the following committees: economic vitality, promotion, membership, finance and design."
3. When was the development association created, and what was the driving force behind its creation?
"ADDA began in 1988 with concerned downtown businesspeople joining with the city of Aiken to address the decline of downtown. By 1990, ADDA was a member of the National Main Street Center and had adopted the four-point approach to its revitalization program.
"Since it was created, downtown Aiken has seen its vacancy rate drop from 25 percent to approximately 5 percent. Buildings have been renovated, businesses have expanded and downtown has attracted regional businesses to locate here. Downtown Aiken is once again looked to as the heart of the community and the place where residents gather for work, fun and to live."
4. Why is this organization important for the city?
"I see ADDA as a liaison between the city and the merchants, the merchants and the community, and sometimes between the city and the community. In comparison to a bicycle wheel, ADDA is sort of the hub that keeps the spokes -- the downtown businesses -- connected and working together rather than just dangling. That connection is what helps to keep the economic vitality of the downtown area vibrant."
5. What is the best thing about shopping in downtown Aiken?
"There's such a variety. There's gifts. There's clothing, kitchenware, stuff for your dog.
''You can just stroll around and relax. It's safe. It's not stressful. It's friendly. Why would you want to go anywhere else?"