Welcome to our blog! We are excited about all the great things happening in Great Falls and we just wanted to take a minute to tell you a little about GFHTA and how our organization has been consistently involved in bringing this potential prosperity to the area and to Chester County.
Great Falls Home Town Association, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit focusing on economic and community development. The mission of GFHTA is to revitalize all aspects of Great Falls, S.C.
Established in 1996, GFHTA uses the Main Street model of organization with committees focusing on economic restructuring, community development, quality of life, and organization. A board of directors consisting of 10 members serve rotating three-year terms and is self-perpetuating.
In 2000, GFHTA sponsored a charette, which is basically a brainstorming session, to focus on the best way to improve the economic well-being of Great Falls. More than 200 townspeople were involved, as well as economic and community development professionals from various state agencies. These people actively participated in coming up with goals for nature-based tourism.
The former textile town, once bustling with three textile mills, many Duke Energy employees, and many small businesses, had been economically depressed since the mid-1980s when the mills closed. From this charette came the idea, because of the location near the Catawba River and the natural beauty of the area that a Nature Based Tourism Initiative would be ideal for economic development. A few of the
goals developed include 1). Preserving the viewshed of Stumpy Pond 2.) Making a rails-to-trails project after the abandoned railbed that followed the reservoir shore 3) working with Duke to provide tourism and educational opportunities, and other tourism opportunities.
In 2003, GFHTA as well as the Town of Great Falls, were identified as stakeholders in the Duke Energy re-licensing of the Catawba-Wateree system. This three-year process gave the Town an opportunity to identify recreation possibilities that would be a part of the license once it was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Through this process the opening of the bypass reaches that was once the series of cataracts of the Great Falls of the Catawba were determined to be opened for whitewater kayaking. There will also be several kayak put-ins, an access area to get to the whitewater, a fishing platform and several other amenities. The whitewater is estimated to be open by April 2023.
GFHTA is helping the Town to implement all the aspects of Nature Based Tourism. We were instrumental in obtaining the rail bed for a trail that will be the terminus/trailhead for the north/south spine of the Carolina Thread Trail. We wrote the grant for the $100,000 award from SCPRT to build the trail as well as writing a grant from the Arras Foundation for $63,000 and the grant from the Carolina
Thread Trail for $30,000, all connected to the trail. GFHT has been instrumental in obtaining the $2.67 million to transform the Company Store Building into a Visitor’s Center as well as being the liaison between the State Parks and the Town as we prepare to bring a state park to the islands in Stumpy Pond by later 2024.
This is just a little background on what we do, what we have done and what will be happening in this beautiful little corner of Chester County. In the near future we will welcome you to enjoy the trails, whitewater, outdoor recreation and the natural beauty of Great Falls, SC.