The City of Lancaster received a Municipal Achievement Award
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The City of Lancaster received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Native American Studies center. Officials were presented with the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 73rd Annual Meeting on July 20. The city won in the 5,001 - 10,000 population category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.

Downtown Lancaster needed an anchor and the University of South Carolina Lancaster needed space to store and showcase its large collection of Catawba pottery and artifacts.

Plans for the Native American Studies Center began when Lancaster municipal officials met with community groups to discuss cultural tourism and historical assets as catalysts for downtown revitalization. They brought faculty in on the conversations. The faculty shared that they were in desperate need of more room for the half-million Catawba artifacts-the world's largest Catawba collection-in the school's possession, as well as space for a growing number of students attending USCL.

The City of Lancaster purchased a long-empty furniture store on Main Street using funds raised from hospitality taxes and a Duke Energy grant. Officials worked with faculty from USCL's Native American Studies department to design classrooms, labs and galleries in the renovated space. The city improved existing parking and created additional parking areas. Working with regional tourism and preservation groups, the city then developed a marketing plan to promote the new center.

The project has been so successful that city officials are working with USCL to relocate more of the University's departments downtown. Workshops, festivals, seminars and other public events are planned to draw more people to the Native American Studies Center.

"A once-empty building is now a cultural asset, and local residents and visitors have another reason to visit downtown Lancaster," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.

Achievement Award winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. More information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website.

The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.