Folks at the Crowne Plaza, alongside community members, spent Thursday afternoon celebrating the new hotel and its contributions to the area.

At a ribbon-cutting hosted by local Chambers of Commerce, hotel management and mayors of both Augusta and North Augusta talked about the hotel and the link between the two cities.

Machela Knox, treasurer on the Board of Directors for the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, said the opening of the hotel is not only a long-awaited dream for the community but a major milestone in the development of North Augusta's riverfront.

"As you can imagine, it has been a long journey for all involved and astonishing to watch it all take shape right before our very eyes," Knox said.

The hotel opened in January of this year and has hosted events and guests since.

"This anchors Riverside Village in my mind," North Augusta mayor Bob Pettit said during the event.

"People come here every day, they're amazed at what they see and the contribution the Crowne Plaza is making to the city of North Augusta and to Riverside Village is absolutely key to the long-term success of our city," he said.

The hotel joins SRP Park and two restaurants, Southbound Smokehouse and Rio Cantina, in Riverside Village.

Jeff Brower, general manager of the hotel, said he is excited to see the "vibrancy of the village" transcend both sides of the river and bring the community together.

Community leaders from Augusta were in attendance as well, including Mayor Hardie Davis.

Sue Parr, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, said they are honored Crowne Plaza chose to come to North Augusta, saying there's "so much synergy now between downtown Augusta and North Augusta that we are all winners in this region, so thank you for your investment."

Lindsey Hodges is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Follow her on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges.