West Columbia small business owners, organizers, and local leaders gathered at 803 Meeting St. Wednesday to hold a ribbon cutting for the newly-revitalized River District Association.

The organization focuses on the River District and businesses within the River District, which are mostly locally-owned "mom and pop" stores, according to association representative Steve Cohen.

"What we want for these businesses is to be able to bring people into the area, and introduce them to the area and those businesses," he said. Cohen also explained that through the organization, business owners will be able to support each other and take advantage of opportunities as a group which may not be achievable as individual owners. He used co-op advertising as an example.

Although a variety of businesses are members of the River District Association, Cohen said they are not in competition with the chamber of commerce.

"In fact, we will encourage all of our members to become members of the Cayce-West Columbia Chamber of Commerce as well," he said.

According to Cohen, the association does not have a financial need to operate. "Any finances we raise from events we do or from membership, that is going back into the community like music events and what-have-you. It will be to bring people back into the community," he said.

The River District Association will be based out of the Meeting Street office, which is also the location for new nonprofit Carolina Together.

Organizer Bill Mooneyhan said the group will plan to host events at various members' stores to continue garnering support and fellowship between businesses.

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