GRANITEVILLE — Using a large pair scissors with red handles, Aiken County Councilman Phil Napier cut a white ribbon Thursday morning to celebrate the installation of a new sign that greets visitors to the community.

Located near where Main and Hickman streets come together, the sign has images of textile mill buildings on it and a message that states, “Welcome to Historic Graniteville, Est. 1845.”

On the other side of Main Street is the Graniteville-Vaucluse-Warrenville Volunteer Fire Department’s headquarters.

Napier, who represents District 6, provided approximately $500 to pay for the metal sign from his share of County Council discretionary funds.

The old sign it replaced had faded.

“This sign means a lot to our community,” Napier said. “It shows that we’re an organized community, we’re proud of heritage and we want to move forward with new business.”

Graniteville grew up around a large-scale cotton mill built by William Gregg more than 170 years ago. Many of the buildings were made of blue granite.

The Midland Valley Chamber of Commerce organized the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the sign.

“Graniteville is open for business,” said Chamber of Commerce board member Colen Lindell. “That is the theme of today’s event. With all the growth that is happening from Exit 5 to Exit 11 (on Interstate 20), we want encourage restaurants and stores and other businesses to open up here. We’re excited about the potential for Graniteville.”

Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Kay Benitez, who is the executive director of Megiddo Dream Station, also spoke. She announced that the Chamber of Commerce’s office now is located at Megiddo’s headquarters at 103 Canal St.

“You can come by our building and get information about Graniteville, the different businesses in the area or anything else you might need,” Benitez said. “The Chamber does not have an employee, so we have incorporated this into our (Megiddo’s) administrative staff to help facilitate getting the word out about Graniteville.”

Also participating in the ceremony were County Council Chairman Gary Bunker and Melissa Oremus, who won the Republican primary runoff for the S.C. House District 84 seat in August. No Democrat filed to run in the special election that is scheduled for Oct. 1.

The seat is vacant following the death of S.C. Rep. Ronnie Young, who was a Republican, earlier this year.

“This is an area that could use some extra investment, and I think it is starting to come here,” Bunker said.

Said Oremus: “Our mills have closed, but our strong citizens have remained. We’re eager to see the next generation of business and commerce come our way.”

Others who were at the ceremony included Special Assistant Martha Ruthven from the Aiken/Barnwell Regional Office of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., and Leavelle-McCampbell Middle School’s principal, Dr. Tiffany Hall.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.