Van Broad will say goodbye as community development director with the city of Mauldin on March 28.
The economic development veteran has served the Golden Strip since October 2007, when he began as Fountain Inn’s economic director.
“When I started in Fountain Inn, the city had a depressed downtown with 60 percent of its businesses vacant,” said Broad. “It only had two restaurants, House of Pizza and The Clock. When I left in 2015, it was 90% occupied and I had recruited Cocina 100, El Patron, Sweet Catherine’s and J Peters. House of Pizza also became Orion’s Grill & Bar.”
Beyond working on revitalizing Fountain Inn’s downtown, Broad helped start development on the city’s Highway 418 corridor by taking part in the area’s first big housing project and recruiting Zaxby’s, Bojangles and McDonald’s to the area.
In addition to expanding the city’s business community, Broad worked with his team and other members of the community such as Anita Sleeman to turn the Fountain Inn Civic Center into a performing arts center, which later became the Younts Center for Performing Arts.
“The rebirth of Fountain Inn really began with Van and his team when he was with the city,” said Fountain Inn Mayor GP McLeer. “We owe a great deal of gratitude to him for making Fountain Inn what it is today and setting us on a path toward a bright future.”
Moving up the road
Ultimately, Broad left Fountain Inn in late 2015 to accept the position in Mauldin.
While Fountain Inn did not have a performing arts center when he started, Mauldin already had its Cultural Arts Center up and running, but the city was primarily renting spaces for events and at the time, only held a few events a year, including its annual barbecue festival.
During his six years with Mauldin, Broad has written grant proposals that led to the Cultural Center’s $661,000 auditorium renovation and $550,000 lobby renovation and expansion. Under his leadership, the city has hosted a variety of events in and around the venue, including Beachin’ Fridays and PB & J — Pizza, Blues & Jazz Festival. Since expanding its cultural event offerings, the city has seen over 30,000 people in attendance and has added at least $300,000 to its economy each year.
Broad credits the performing arts venues for helping grow both cities.
“I cannot say how much the use of events and the arts helped to create a downtown experience,” said Broad. “It was the catalyst for development in both cities.”
Broad also credits partnerships with city employees such as director of business and development services David Dyrhaug, and leadership, including Mayor Terry Merritt, former Mayor Dennis Raines and City Council, as well as developers for helping Mauldin grow.
“David Dyrhaug has been a partner in crime with me since he came on board,” Broad said. “We’ve done a lot of this together. I go to David to get things done. David has been a tremendous partner because he turns plan review in days [and] that wins projects for cities.”
Broad also helped bring Aldi and Starbucks to Main Street. The city is also slated to welcome Maverick Station at the corner of Main Street and Butler Road and BridgeWay Station.
“Van’s contributions to much of our economic development as well as our community development efforts have been of tremendous value to our city,” said Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt. “He has let the efforts on bringing major projects like the City Center Walkable Village and Bridgeway Station developments to the city. Van has made it possible for our city to see actual progress on many aspects of our redefining the City of Mauldin as a destination for entertainment, recreation, dining as well as a great place to live. His huge heart, spirit, love and passion for our city’s future will be greatly missed. I wish him the best in his future wherever that takes him.”
Broad isn’t quite ready to talk about his next chapter yet, but the Upstate Business Journal will be bringing you details soon.