York, South Carolina – York County

February 20, 2024

York, South Carolina

A Thriving Southern Gem where History and Progress Intersect


The White Rose City looks to a dynamic future

Nestled in the upstate of South Carolina, just 30 miles south of Charlotte, York is a city with a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1786 Today, it stands as the county seat for York County, boasting a unique blend of historic charm and modern development. With an updated vision that heralds York as “a historic city with charming neighborhoods, caring residents, abundant opportunities, and an innovative and inclusive economy,” the city is committed to revitalizing its identity. A recent rebranding initiative, aptly named “The White Rose City,” brings together the timelessness and tradition of the community while displaying the modern amenities and innovation that the progressive city has embraced.

Mayor Michael Fuesser describes, “We have one of the largest historic districts in the state of South Carolina. We’re a very hospitable community. We are a growing community. We’re about an hour and a half drive to Greenville and a four hour drive from Atlanta, and a lot of people are moving to this part of South Carolina.”


Economic Development and Workforce Initiatives

With 16 subdivisions in the pipeline and a strategic focus on planned urban development, York is attracting both businesses and residents alike. “There are commercial outparcels as part of those developments,” expands City Manager Dalton Pierce. “We have a total of 13 approved at this point in time, looking to attract some business.”

On the subject of York’s economic landscape, Pierce points out the contrast between the agricultural surroundings and a growing industrial and commercial sector. He highlights the ongoing development of a light industrial park in partnership with York Electric Co Op, a venture aimed at creating job opportunities and fostering workforce development in the region. “I think that will be one project that will bear a lot of fruit for the city moving forward,” he says, adding that the York Regional Chamber of Commerce also plays a vital role in supporting workforce development initiatives in the city. Further underscoring York’s commitment to economic growth, Pierce references Harbor Freight Tools, a prominent retail company specializing in affordable, quality products, who have just opened a location in the city.

James Patterson, a native of York and part owner of Agricultural Products Extension (APEX), shares his motivation for investing in the city. He explains, “The city of York works well with investors, but also, my blood is here, and I did want to see it prosper. I saw the potential with the surrounding area with Charlotte, and what the city was doing to help grow the community. There were lots of empty buildings in our historic downtown that I always wanted to see open and thriving again.”

Patterson’s investment philosophy aligns with the city’s expansion, notably the anticipated increase in population. “You can see the growth on the residential side. From an investment standpoint, retail goes along with residential, and we’re looking at Mom and Pop type investments,” he acknowledges. From this perspective, focusing on smaller, locally rooted enterprises fits seamlessly with York’s identity, fostering both economic development and community vibrancy. “We have the agricultural fairs and different things that surround York, which I think does very well for us. The little events we have downtown, we’re kind of catering to the mom and pops, which is intriguing to people moving to York. We’re looking at industrial places that have less than 20 employees working there, which is a good fit for the city,” he depicts.

Infrastructure Upgrades and Resilience

Ongoing infrastructure projects in the city include wastewater treatment plant upgrades and the replacement of aging water and sewer lines. Mayor Fuesser reports, “Currently we have an engineering study which is almost complete, to bring our wastewater treatment plant up to its maximum. That project is in the works. We have a lot of aging water and sewer infrastructure in the ground. And we currently have a project underway to replace a mile and a half of water and sewer lines on Liberty Street, which is a main thoroughfare for the city of York.” He says this project will take approximately 18 months to complete, at a cost of $5 million. Looking ahead, the city is hoping to receive some funding from the state to put towards another waterline in a main area of the community. “We know we’ve got to upgrade this infrastructure. It will make our service a lot more reliable and a lot better,” admits the mayor.

In response to the increasing trend of remote work, York is investing in enhanced connectivity. “There are companies that are putting fiber optics in the ground to upgrade the services that we have in the city right now. Typically, everything’s overhead, and it is cable, but there’s some companies that are putting the fiber optics in and we certainly need it. There are parts of the county that have hardly any internet service and definitely not fiber optics,” asserts Fuesser. Highlighting a collaboration between York Electric Co Op and Comporium, Fuesser says the city aims to expand the reach to these rural areas. “There’s a plan to get it throughout Western York County,” he relays. “My internet has always been pretty good, but I think as time goes on, and with the advancements in technology, what we have is not keeping up, so we do need to advance that also in the city.” The installation of two EV charging stations in York further show the commitment to progress and sustainability, aligning with the forward-thinking approach, and offering modern amenities for residents and visitors.


Innovations in Parks, Recreation, and Public Safety

York’s commitment to quality of life is evident in its parks and recreation projects. Plans for an update to a downtown park will bring a stage and restroom facilities, which will be used throughout the year, especially during the popular Summerfest festival. Pierce also outlines plans for an outdoor recreational option at the city’s recreation complex, which will utilize a $30,000 grant. “Our Park Master Plan study called out for having an outdoor facility along the trail or in an area all in one. So, we are excited about that, and are trying to garner some corporate sponsorship, and then pay some dollars to be able to get that project completed,” he conveys. Additionally, the city of York is looking to purchase land to build a larger recreational facility, to accommodate the needs of a growing population.

In terms of public safety, the city is conducting a fire station feasibility study to address the need for an additional substation due to population density growth. “When it comes to the emergency services side, the city, thankfully only has one vacancy in the police department at this time, which not many municipalities can say,” Pierce portrays. “We go beyond our city limits when it comes to service to aid the county, which we have a great working relationship with. We are looking to see what that feasibility study looks like, but we are also having to add personnel to both of those departments.”

Downtown Renaissance

To spotlight the vibrant historic downtown district, York has invested in wayfinding signage, awning grants, and is considering a facade grant program. From a tourism perspective, the mayor says, “I would say the very top draw is the downtown. We have some very good restaurants downtown. Are we in need of more, certainly we are. But we have a gorgeous downtown center that has unbelievable potential to keep moving forward.” Since Fuesser became mayor in 2020, he says the focus has been on drawing diverse establishments and creating a lively and inviting atmosphere for locals and visitors to the city. He notes that the goal is to update the master plan and continue investing in the downtown area to unlock the full potential and showcase this vital piece of York’s identity.

 Looking Ahead

In 2024, the city of York continues to focus on creating an inviting environment for its expanding population. Collaborating with entities such as the York Regional Chamber of Commerce, Visit York County, York County, and York School District 1, the city remains dedicated to growing the local economy, and preparing a local workforce.

From a more personal perspective Mayor Fuesser remarks, “I’d like to finish my term out on a high note. We’ve got a lot of projects going on. We’ve got a lot of things we’re talking about doing. I just want people to visit us. I love to see new faces in York.” This adheres perfectly to the city vision of welcoming visitors to experience the unique blend of history and progress that defines York, South Carolina.

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York, South Carolina

What: A growing community balancing history and progress

Where: York County, SC

Website: www.yorksc.gov


February 2024

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