As I drove through the countryside, I listened to the message and could only shake my head. The young man, who will finish his residency next June, really wanted to locate his practice in South Carolina. However, he didn’t think the Midlands would be an option. “I’ve never heard of Columbia,” he said, and “my wife’s been there but says there’s nothing to do!”
He went on to say, “We think we want to set my practice up in Charleston or maybe in the Beaufort area. But we’ve got friends in Greenville and hear that’s an amazing town, so we’re going to take a look there, too.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard this over the years…
I thought about it, jotted down some ideas, and decided to call him that night. I would put my best “Chamber of Commerce” hat on and “plead our case.” I had nothing to lose.
Here’s how it went. Me: “Doctor, I understand the appeal of Charleston, Beaufort, and the low country…a fantasic part of the world. Greenville and the Upstate are nice, too, and are doing amazing things. I love both areas, and actually, as a South Carolinian, am very proud (and inspired) to see the transformation in these areas. But, please, at least take a look at Columbia and the Midlands.”
“You like to sail, ski, fish, or boat? We’ve got Lake Murray, a 50,000 acre paradise. You like natural beauty, hiking, and the outdoors? Check out the Three Rivers Greenway or Congaree National Park, one of only 44 in the country and the only national park in the Carolinas. Zoos? Riverbanks is one of the best and continues to get better.
“Your family like museums? With the Columbia Museum of Art, State Museum, and Edventure, the Capital City is punching way beyond its weight here, too.”
“How about cultural events, music, and theater? Where do I begin? The South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra, multiple ballet companies, Trustus, Town Theatre, the Nick, Columbia Marionette Theater. Just to name a few.
“While we’re at it, what about concerts? Or Broadway shows? Colonial Life Arena consistently brings in the biggest acts in the country. Broadway in Columbia at the Koger Center always sells out.
“SEC sports do anything for you? We’ve got that in a big way! And, by the way, an A-list celebrity and most bad-a** basketball coach on the planet; Dawn Staley calls Columbia home.
“What kind of neighborhood do you like? I’m partial to mine, Shandon, but we’ve got every possible flavor and price range you want. Or great areas like Forest Acres, Lexington, Cayce, and Blythewood (another town I’m partial to).”
Perhaps I’d exhausted him at this point, but he agreed to visit with his family this fall. He’s going to give the Midlands a shot. I’ve done my job.
Maybe it was serendipitous, but the following week (I’ve got lots of windshield time), I came across a podcast series called Around Town with @ColaMayor. Folks, I highly encourage you to check these out. You will enjoy the conversations with an absolutely amazing group of talented and dedicated Columbians. One of the main themes in this series is “We’ve got to start telling our story!” and Mayor Rickenmann is right about this.
Columbia is home to a lawyer and lobbyist who happen to have founded a nationally renowned and growing leather goods company (Episode 1—Life Changing moments and leather working with Laddie Howard).
Columbia’s restaurant scene is incredibly diverse and growing and about to get even better (Episode 2—New Restaurants and Old Flames with Kristian Niemi).
Five Points is starting to hit its stride (Episode 3— Bringing Businesses Back to Five Points with Amy Beth Franks from The Gourmet Shop).
Columbia hosts a foundation, with considerable assets, that is doing great things (Episode 6—The Biggest Improvements Coming to Columbia with Susan Boyd and George Bailey from the Boyd Foundation.)
Historic Columbia is presenting our rich history in unique and innovative ways (Episode 7—Preserving and Revitalizing the City with Historic Columbia’s Robin Waites and Kim Crafton).
Columbia will happily support quality local businesses (Episode 9—Tasty as Fit’s Emilie Blanchard Talks Making Healthy Foods Taste Good).
Columbia’s got developers who are bringing quality and innovative projects to our town (Episode 11—What is Coming to Cola? With Frank Cason from Cason Development Group).
We’ve got problems but also solutions on the horizon. And BBQ is good. (Episode 13—Problems and Solutions for Columbia with Local Legend Kevin Gray).
Out of tragedy can come change, progress, and hope (Episode 15—How to Improve Policing in Columbia with Kassy Alia Ray.)
Will my friend, a dentist, locate his practice in the Midlands next summer? Time will tell. But we’ve got a shot.
With the Capital City’s rock solid foundation plus the incredible array of talented people among us, it will be exciting to see what the coming years bring us.
Now, on to the next podcast.