Hereís an idea that just might create new businesses and encourage people to take a leap of faith and actually see dreams come true.

We have seen many businesses come and go in the Aiken and Richmond County downtown areas. We have downtown associations and revitalization programs that seem to be trying everything, but to no avail.

The root of the problem is the cost of the rent.

I propose that the property owners cut the cost of the rent in half for new businesses during the first year.

The second year, the rent goes to 75 percent and the third is full rental price, agreed on at the time of the contract.

This would encourage start-up businesses by improving their opportunity for success.

Itís been said that it takes three years for a business to become successful and quite frankly. Isnít some rent better than no rent at all?

The second part of this plan is one that would encourage the property owner to take part in the program. They would in turn receive a property tax break on the same 3 year scale. The downtown areas would be the pilot program, and if it worked, spread this out to other struggling areas of Aiken and Richmond counties.

Just trying to be a part of the solution.

Robbie Bellamy

Aiken County Tourism Program Coordinator