E-Commerce Report
Sponsored by:
June 29, 2023
Mixed-use development will have positive impact on downtown Aiken economy
by Jason G. Rabun, 2023 Chair, Aiken Chamber of Commerce

The proposed mixed-use development project for downtown Aiken is appealing for a number of reasons, but one of the most exciting aspects to me, a life long Aikenite, is the economic impact I believe it will have on downtown’s locally owned small businesses. With the addition of 100+ consumers in the area every day, and many more visitors expected on a regular basis, shops, restaurants and other businesses can expect to see a welcome increase in customers and revenue.

As chair of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, I am committed to efforts that help businesses grow and thrive in Aiken. This project does just that and has the potential to benefit all downtown businesses. The Chamber supports the City of Aiken in this endeavor and looks forward to enhancing our downtown business community with this new addition.

One of the potential tenants of the office building included in this project, the Savannah River National Laboratory, is considering establishing a workforce development center there, with plans to host a robust team of professionals and graduate students. The nearby businesses that Aiken residents have enjoyed and supported for years are in part what drew SRNL leaders to seek out a lease in this anticipated building. They know that their team will appreciate and capitalize on the proximity to these local establishments.

In fact, SRNL team members have already expressed great interest in the new location and the conveniences it will offer. Workers at the Savannah River Site have limited options for lunch and no chance to run a quick errand during a break. Moving to the heart of downtown Aiken is an attractive prospect to the individuals who will come to work in the space daily. They are eagerly anticipating the advantages of the downtown location. Visitors and students stopping by the workforce center will enjoy our unique downtown atmosphere and culture as well.

Data provided by Retail Strategies, a recognized expert in retail recruitment, shows that the introduction of this workforce and their higher incomes to downtown Aiken will increase total expenditures per person across all retail categories in the area, potentially amounting to as much as $3.3 million total of new spending annually in this market. This kind of spending has the potential to be transformational for our small businesses.

This kind of economic impact has ripple effects: With the increased foot traffic in the area driving sales, businesses may ultimately be able to offer more products or services, expand their hours, and hire additional staff. Small business owners I have spoken to know this will help them sustain, grow and thrive. Which is what we all want for our beloved downtown.

Some residents have raised questions about what impact this project might have on the feel and aesthetics of downtown Aiken. We all love the charm and character the area has, and those working to make this project a reality are working diligently to preserve those qualities while still securing a strong economic foundation for our city.

The boost to businesses through an expanded market of regular consumers is a great opportunity to ensure the downtown district continues to thrive, instead of fading away over time like so many Main Streets across the country have. The addition of new professionals, students and visitors contributes to the shared vision we have for a vibrant, healthy epicenter of Aiken that maintains the familiar culture that makes it unique.

As the process moves forward to finalize details about the mixed-use project, we hope that Aiken residents will recognize the incredible advantage this will give to our small businesses - many of which have been the backbone of our local economy for decades. We can certainly balance preserving elements of the downtown we know and love while leveling up opportunities for our business community and securing a brighter future for our community through the rigorous review process and standards the city has proposed.
Chamber First
Aiken Chamber means business
by Russell Turner
Aiken Chamber member and ambassador
My name is Russell Turner and I own a business in Aiken, called “Navigating My Medicare”. My wife is the executive director of Gentiva Hospice, also located in Aiken. Both of our businesses are Aiken Chamber members. This testimonial is not about our businesses, but about the Aiken Chamber and the businesses associated with the Chamber.

Aiken’s unique business community creates jobs and supplies goods, services, entertainment, dining, and accommodations. The Aiken Chamber holds our business community together, with a visionary future. With around 1,000 members in the Chamber, you can find anything you need.

My wife and I moved to Aiken about a year and half ago. We came to Aiken where we had no family or friends that live here. As with any new location you need resources for home and business. My wife was responsible for opening a new office space for her company, so business resources were at the top of her priority list.

When I opened my business in Aiken, I also needed resources, and we needed resources for our new home. It is true that the “Yellow Pages”, if you are old enough to know what that is, is a thing of the past. However, the Aiken Chamber directory thrives, in both paperback and digital. New businesses are constantly being added to multiple categories.
Resources/companies we’ve used that are in the Chamber:

Resources/companies we’ve used that are in the Chamber:

  1. Aiken Pest Control -They handle our pest, mosquito and termite control.
  2. Gary Sullivan/ Printer Man – Gary does my direct mail marketing campaign.
  3. Cynthia South with South Marketing – Cynthia developed videos and other marketing materials for my business.
  4. Aiken Senior Life Services- My current office is in this building, and I met them through the Aiken Chamber.
  5. C & C Automotive- Oil changes and auto care.
  6. Nothing Bundt Cakes- You must know JC, the best cakes.
  7. Debbie Roland Realtor - If I ever need to sell a house, this is my first call.
  8. Cruising with Pop Pop – We will continue to use him for every vacation from now on.
  9. Jessica Ramp– Aiken Chamber Ambassador chair... always there to help with questions or referrals to other businesses.
  10. Jim Tunison – Jim is there for all members of the Chamber; I have asked him countless times for help finding a business contact. He is the best.

Just to name a few…. There are many, many more... Some of the best people I have ever had the good fortune of meeting.

Anything you need you can find a business in the Chamber that can help. Anything from Bundt cakes to cyber security to automotive and even Medicare insurance. The Aiken Chamber, along with its members, host great events to keep members engaged. The “First Friday Means Business” is hosted on the first Friday of each month at Newberry Hall. The food is great, and I get to meet somebody new every month. In addition, you can find potential customers or referral sources. I intentionally try to sit with a different group of people each month to meet someone new. Don’t forget the “Business After Hours” events. Also great for networking and meeting new business owners.

Why Chamber First?

What do you have if you do not have customers? Just a question we should ask ourselves each and every day. The Aiken Chamber is filled with great companies looking to do business with other Chamber members. Aiken Chamber businesses understand that personal touch is the best way to connect with other businesses. Building relationships with companies, big and small. Networking and finding resources through the Aiken Chamber will mean you are doing business with professionals that have a solid level of credibility. These are legitimate businesses that want to do business with you.

I have been a salesman for over 30 years, one of the biggest hurdles is maintaining a pipeline of potential customers. The Chamber is your pipeline. It can be equated to an existing customer base. People get to know you and know what you do. Even if they themselves are not a customer, they will think of you when someone they know needs your particular product or service. These relationships matter.

No matter what my wife and I are looking for, whether it is for home or business, we will always look at the Aiken Chamber directory first for a business in the category of my need. Checking the Aiken Chamber directory and referring to other Chamber businesses has become second nature to us.

In closing, I’ve been in business for many years, and I have been in other chambers in different cities across the state of SC. There is a reason that Aiken Chamber is: “1” of only 105 chambers in the nation with a 5-Star Accreditation awarded by the U.S. Chamber.“

The Aiken Chamber is engaged with its members, helping with information and direction. They have a finger on the pulse of the city. They are always ready to listen to any business.

So, when you think about doing business, and if you spend a nickel, you are doing business, why not pick up your Aiken Chamber directory or use the online chamber directory and find what you need. Any solution we need, we look to “Chamber First - Chamber Members doing business with Chamber Members”. It just makes sense!
Enhance your marketing…
2024 Welcome Aiken underway
Advertisers as of June 26th are:
  • Aiken Community Theatre
  • Aiken Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  • Aiken Physicians Alliance
  • Aiken Regional Medical Centers
  • Aiken Scoop Group
  • Aiken Technical College
  • Alfred Benesch & Company
  • Augusta-Aiken Orthopedic Specialists
  • Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC
  • Bridle Creek
  • The Center for African American History, Art & Culture
  • Centerra – Savannah River Site
  • Colony at South Park
  • Concierge Property Management Group
  • Dominion Energy
  • Donna Taylor, Meybohm Real Estate
  • Hurricane Builders
  • Kitfox Pediatric Dentistry
  • Meybohm Real Estate
  • RE/MAX Tattersall Group, LLC
  • Rolls-Royce Solutions America Inc
  • SRP Federal Credit Union
  • University of South Carolina Aiken
  • Western SC / Economic Development Partnership
  • Woodwinds Apartment Homes
Now is the time to begin thinking about how you want to market your business in 2024. Work on the next edition of Welcome Aiken, the official community guide and business directory of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce, is underway and you don’t want to miss a fantastic opportunity to showcase your business.
More than 8,000 copies of Welcome Aiken are distributed annually to newcomers, visitors, potential residents, current residents, and to businesses and industries for recruiting purposes. Welcome Aiken is a true showcase of the Aiken community.
This award-winning publication captures and communicates the unique characteristics and personality of the community and delivers a strong message that Aiken is the place to live, work, play, and do business.
Welcome Aiken offers Chamber members visibility with a variety of audiences. Distributed both near and far, Welcome Aiken is a resource for individuals, families and businesses that are considering Aiken as a potential place to locate. It is also used by Aikenites seeking to know more about their community and by fellow members as their go to business-to-business resource.
The Chamber’s distribution channels reach far and wide. Our full-page advertisers also receive the added benefit of digital and social media reach at no additional cost.
Don’t miss out! Contact Aiken Chamber Membership Services Director Jim Tunison at (803) 645-0144 or email jtunison@aikenchamber.net for marketing details and to join the growing list of companies invested in telling Aiken’s story. 

Step into Aiken history at Business After Hours

Chamber members, mark your calendars and get ready for a truly historic Business After Hours July 27th at the Gaston Livery Stable. Guests will be able to truly immerse themselves in the rich heritage of Aiken while connecting with fellow Chamber members in a setting that exudes charm and nostalgia.

Dating back to its construction in 1893, the Gaston Livery Stable holds an esteemed place in Aiken's history, playing a vital role in the city's turn-of-the-century transportation industry.
Its remarkable U-shaped brick barn architecture stands as a testament to the craftsmanship of a bygone era, capturing the imagination with its timeless beauty.
Once owned by Jonathan Steadman, the stable became synonymous with the Gaston family, who assumed ownership in 1909. For over two decades, D.W. Gaston, Sr., and his son, D.W. Gaston, Jr., operated the livery, providing essential services to Aiken residents and members of the Winter Colony.

With its striking eclectic Victorian design featuring a symmetrical floorplan and a one-story Porte-cochere visible from Richland Avenue East, the two-and-a-half-story, 10,000 square foot, all-brick structure remains one of only five of its kind in the United States.

Its architectural grandeur is further accentuated by the presence of a remarkable historic artifact—the original and fully functional carriage lift, a testament to Victorian ingenuity and simple mechanics. It stands as the only known operational lift of its kind in America.

Recognizing its cultural and architectural significance, the Gaston Livery Stable was designated as an official historical landmark in Aiken on October 22, 2012. It received a well-deserved national recognition by being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2020, followed by the installation of a State Historical Marker in 2021. These accolades are a testament to the enduring legacy of this treasured establishment.

All of these achievements have been made possible through the tireless efforts of the Friends of the Gaston Livery Stable, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 2011. Their unwavering commitment to preserving and restoring the Barn has been met with overwhelming community support, including over 22,500 volunteer hours and generous donations from local businesses.
Today, the Gaston Livery Stable serves as both a living history venue and an educational facility. Inside visitors will find a meeting room and a spacious 2,300 square foot event space, available for rentals and special occasions.

The Aiken Chamber is delighted that the Friends of the Gaston Livery Stable will be hosting the July Business After Hours. This gathering promises to be an event of networking, connection, and appreciation for Aiken's remarkable past.

AI transforming the workplace
By SC Chamber of Commerce

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm, from transforming job recruiting to modernizing the workforce. The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report for 2020 estimates that AI will replace 85 million jobs by 2025, and 97 million new jobs will be created by AI. Forbes reported that AI-powered tools are transforming work environments to be more adaptive to workers' individual needs, reducing barriers and promoting accessibility for many jobs. AI Chatbot programs like OpenAI's ChatGPT [backed by Microsoft], Google's LaMDA, and Amazon's ScienceQA are specifically transforming the workforce by acting as virtual assistants that can learn from supervised training and reinforcement by users. According to BBC, these products take a given prompt and expand using natural language processing to provide informed responses and analysis.

As AI continues to crawl further into everyday life and operations, organizations and businesses will need to take note of policies and practices. Fox Business asked Jennifer Morehead, owner and CEO of Flex HR, about how AI is reshaping the workforce, and she shared that companies will need to look at updating their handbooks to account for AI tools. Morehead said, "AI can greatly enhance worker performance and can be used to augment, not replace, human interaction and expertise." She also noted the importance of businesses being aware of emerging tech to make informed decisions about what to use and avoid.

Congressional leaders are also looking at the emergence of AI and considering the responsibility of the government to regulate the industry to provide safeguards for American users and workers. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said to NPR, "Our goal is to maximize the good that can come of [artificial intelligence]… And there can be tremendous good but minimize the bad that can come of it... But to do it is easier said than done." NPR also reported on Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) who introduced the first piece of federal legislation written by AI. Lieu asked ChatGPT how to write a resolution for AI regulation and concluded that the future holds all sorts of harms, and Congress needs to step up and start looking at ways to regulate against them before introducing the piece of legislation.

Want to learn more about how artificial intelligence is shaping the workforce? We asked ChatGPT for you. View what it said here.
A ribbon cutting was held June 9 at Cart Mart – Aiken to celebrate its grand opening at 1044 E. Pine Log Road. Brad Haerle, VP of Commercial Sales and General Manager East is cutting the ribbon along with Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson, staff, and members of the Aiken Chamber Ambassador Team. Cart Mart- Aiken is a full-service golf cart dealership offering golf cart sales, service, parts and rentals. They carry Club Car Onward golf carts, ICON® EV street legal golf carts and more. Whether you need a cart for riding around the farm, strolling through the neighborhood, or to drive to Sunday polo matches, Cart Mart – Aiken has you covered. Drop by from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon. – Fri., call (803) 543-0466 or visit www.cartmart.com to learn more. 
On June 15, the Aiken Chamber helped The Wildemount celebrate the grand opening of its new fine dining restaurant at 200 Park Ave. SW. Owner Samuel O’Lone is shown cutting the ribbon with his extended family and Aiken Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson. O’Lone, originally from New Hampshire, has always had a passion for food service and visited Aiken for many winters when his sisters brought their horses here. It was during these visits that he fell in love with Aiken. When given the opportunity to open a restaurant here, he jumped at it. The restaurant is now committed to bringing fine dining to Aiken with a passion and drive to evolve and achieve a great taste that the locals will enjoy. The Wildemount is open Tues. – Sat. from 5 – 9 p.m. Call (803) 262-5269 to make reservations and view their menu at www.thewildemount.com
Aiken Senior Life Services (ASLS) and Aiken Master Gardeners Association cut the ribbon June 21 on its new community garden located at the ASLS facility at 1310 East Pine Log Road. ASLS Executive Director Aimee Hanna cut the ribbon with Aiken Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson, members of the Aiken Master Gardener Association, and members of the Aiken Chamber Ambassador Team. The community garden will supplement the ASLS nutrition programs and will also be used for any local seniors in need. This new partnership will encourage seniors to be outside and exercise more and learn new ways to garden. For information about joining the Aiken Senior Life Services Community Garden Club, call Ronnica Golson at (803) 648-5447 ext. 2210 or email rgolson@aikensenior.org.
Midsomer hosted the grand opening of its brand-new build-to-rent community located at 507 Satinwood Circle, Graniteville with a ribbon cutting June 21. Aiken Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson and members of the Aiken Chamber Ambassador Team helped Falon Sharpe, regional property manager of Greystar and Shayne McKee, Midsomer community manager celebrate. At Midsomer, residents will enjoy a seamless living experience. Take away the worries that come with homeownership and enjoy the perks of a fully equipped kitchen, full size washer and dryer, attached garage, fenced in backyard, and smart home features. Whichever spacious layout you select, you can find comfort in knowing that Midsomer has your lifestyle in mind. Learn more at www.midsomerliving.com or call (912) 800-0170. 
Chamber gives Killian send-off, recognition

Aiken Chamber President/CEO J. David Jameson presented Clay Killian, Aiken County Administrator, with a plaque recognizing his 22 years of service as an ex officio member of the Aiken Chamber Board of Directors. Killian will retire from his current role at the end of July. The Aiken Chamber appreciates the many years of dedication he has given to the Chamber and to the citizens of Aiken County.

Ameris Bank Mortgage Mortgage Company
We are happy to be a part of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce. Give us a call for any mortgage needs.
2743 Perimeter Parkway, Bldg. 200 Suite 107
Augusta, GA 30909
Contact: Peter Franklin
Phone: (706) 619-3967

Cleanse Gourmet Wellness
A plant based, food grade gourmet ingredients beauty brand that focuses on fresh infusions that feed your skin.
942 Millbrook Ave, Suite 1
Aiken, SC 29803
Contact: Maggie Rasmussen
Phone: (803) 761-2784

The Frequency Bar Health & Wellness
Aiken’s own energy enhancement system, located adjacent to the Houndslake Country Club. We offer a peaceful space for our members to relax, recharge, quiet their minds or meditate.
920 Houndslake Drive
Aiken, SC 29803
Contact: Anthony Ferraiuolo
Phone: (*03) 226-0787

Oh Mie StelleBakery
Local artisan bakery specializing in hand-crafted bagels and breads, as well as home-made cream cheeses and spreads.
969 Pine Log Road
Aiken, SC 29803
Contact: Clarissa Kuhl
Phone: (803) 989-4676

Laura Walker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beazley, Realtors Real Estate
Lead site agent at Bill Beazley Homes, Pierwood Construction & Crawford Construction.
Aiken, SC 29801
Phone: (706) 699-5944

The Wildemount Restaurant
A fine dining establishment where you can expect good food, stellar service, and a relaxing, professional atmosphere.
200 Park Avenue, SW
Aiken, SC 29801
Contact: Samuel O’Lone
Phone: (803) 262-5269

Workout Anytime AikenRecreational
We are a locally owned and operated 24/7 fitness center featuring full cardio and weight training equipment, personal training, tanning, hydromassage, and so much more.
1614 Richland Avenue, W
Aiken, SC 29801
Contact: Cody Melvin
Phone: (803) 220-4424

Learn from the experts with SCORE’s small business training workshops
SCORE Greater Aiken hosts small business workshops -- both online webinars and live, in-person. Find everything you need to know to start a business or discover tools that will help your small business grow. Browse our workshops here.
Food, music, theatre, equine activities and even drag racing are just the beginning when it comes to things to do in Aiken.

Sponsored by A.B. Beverage Company, the Aiken Chamber Weekend Rundown is a once-a-week email highlighting the many happenings in Aiken.
Join the email list here, stay in the know, and get connected to your community.