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What is the future of Conway? Leaders look to the past

Shoppers walk around Conway's historic district (WPDE)

With the planned addition of 801 Conway, a bowling and entertainment center, Conway gets a type of business that's rare inside the city limits: entertainment, particularly at night.

RELATED: Bowling, entertainment center planned near CCU

There's no arguing that Conway's downtown is busy. By day, traffic on Main Street is often bumper to bumper and shoppers walk from store to store, often stopping to chat with friends and neighbors.

But most stores close after normal working hours, as early as 5 p.m., which doesn't help city and economic leaders attract people who prefer to venture out after dark.

"I consider it almost like a puzzle, you know, you have bigger pieces, smaller pieces, this is a good piece," Devin Parks, Director of Economic Development at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, explained after a tour of the original bowling center in North Myrtle Beach.

ABC15 asked community members, City Council members, and Chamber of Commerce officials about the vision for downtown Conway and the city as a whole.

Papa's General Store Owner Craig Smith said he wanted more festivals, wistfully describing the Christmas decorations the city used to hang.

As for every day improvements, "There's a lot more room for evening dining in downtown Conway," he said.

Everyone, including Smith, spoke about similar broad themes when discussing the future of the city. They want Conway to embrace its historic role in Horry County, as well as the compact downtown the city offers.

Conway Area Chamber of Commerce VP of Economic Development Gary Lee explained that Conway could become residents' and visitors' go-to destination for walking around and shopping, and getting away from the beach. He said the old city feel is appealing to millennials.

"You can't create history. History is something that you have to be involved with," Lee said. "It comes with a mentality that we are a part of something that's bigger than today."

Lee pointed to family-owned businesses in Conway that have been open for more than a century, which he said is rare in the United States. He also said the location next to the Waccamaw River is attractive to customers and residents alike.

He also said he is satisfied with the current pace of growth.

"We're growing healthy. We're not exploding," he explained.

If you are interested in opening a business in Conway, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce encourages you to visit their economic development website.

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