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Greenway eyes boost from Fort Mill area's corporate growth

Ken Elkins, Senior Staff Writer
Charlotte Business Journal
March 8, 2017

FORT MILL, S.C. – Tim Patterson, president of the Anne Springs Close Greenway, knows a good business opportunity when he sees it.

Thanks to the corporate growth in the Fort Mill area and the employees that are coming with it, Patterson is amping up the greenway’s connection to CEOs and other business people as he launches another fundraiser for the 2,100-acre nature preserve.

On Tuesday, a drive was launched to raise $211,000 annually to pay for maintenance at the greenway, land for which was donated by the children of Springs family matriarch Anne Close.

Close, at 91 years old, attended the event and led a brisk hike along one of the 40 miles of trails in the public park, located to the north of Fort Mill and just across the state line from Charlotte. The fundraising event is part of the “April is Love the Greenway Month” campaign, says Jan Martin, chairwoman of the Greenway.

Martin is also manager of communications at nearby Domtar Corp. (NYSE: UFS). Its CEO, John Williams, will lead a business breakfast March 17 with other area CEOs to drum up more interest in the greenway by the business community.

Sure, the greenway needs corporate donations, says Denise Cubbedge, director of development. But it also wants participation from those corporations’ employees.

“We want them to see it as a place for them to volunteer as well as have corporate events,” Cubbedge says.

The campaign is also aimed at the millennials who are coming to northern York County as Lash Group, LPL Financial and others move employees to the Fort Mill area.

Martin says April is “a time to get your selfie outside” — selfie sticks were distributed to the participants at Tuesday’s kickoff of the campaign.

LPL, which has a trail leading from its corporate campus to the greenway, gives its employee discounts to the facility. Carolinas HealthCare System asks employees to volunteer at the greenway.

Other events during April include the Blue Star Blitz, a hike or walk event along the 7.2-mile Blue Star Trail at the greenway. That’s scheduled for April 1 (no fooling).

Smartphone users can text “Blitz” to 71777 to register for the hikes and to listen to a DJ and eat from food trucks on the property on the day of the event.

A $15 million capital campaign started in 2012 has raised around $12.2 million so far, Cubbedge says. Greenway planners believe they’ve identified a couple more companies in the Charlotte region that may help them complete that campaign.

An accompanying membership campaign has worked so far. Membership has grown to 17,000, up about 70% from 2012.

Visits are up to 256,114 in 2016, compared with about 90,000 in 2012.

Close, walking with her red-tipped cane because her eyesight isn’t what it used to be, strides on during the hike, leaving most of the 50 or so participants Tuesday trailing behind.

“I grew up playing in these woods and in the creeks,” she says during a break at the swinging bridge in the Greenway.

“I wanted to see some of it remain for future generations.”
Link to article with photo gallery here.

Ken Elkins covers manufacturing, international business and economic development for the Charlotte Business Journal.

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We want them to see it as a place for them to volunteer as well as have corporate events.

Denise Cubbedge Director of Development, Anne Springs Close Greenway

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