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Mayor Danner, Person of the Year, is 'All in' for Greer

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Friday, January 3, 2014

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Greer Mayor Rick Danner entertained the Board of Directors for Dalian Chamber of Commerce in Jinzhou New District.

Jim Fair

Greer Mayor Rick Danner entertained the Board of Directors for Dalian Chamber of Commerce in Jinzhou New District.



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Mayor Rick Danner shucks oysters in December at a fundraiser for former Great Bay Oyster House owner Stan Christofferson who died in May 2012. Proceeds went to families to offset their costs of medicine and other cancer related expenses.

Scott Stevens

Mayor Rick Danner shucks oysters in December at a fundraiser for former Great Bay Oyster House owner Stan Christofferson who died in May 2012. Proceeds went to families to offset their costs of medicine and other cancer related expenses.



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Mayor Rick Danner and Sen. Lindsey Graham chat during the Inland Port groundbreaking last March. The port opened for business in mid-October.

Jim Fair

Mayor Rick Danner and Sen. Lindsey Graham chat during the Inland Port groundbreaking last March. The port opened for business in mid-October.



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Mayor Rick Danner signs a proclamation for Little Miss Greer Taylor Singleton. Danner enjoys honoring youth and talking with them during visits at City Hall and City Council meetings.

Jim Fair

Mayor Rick Danner signs a proclamation for Little Miss Greer Taylor Singleton. Danner enjoys honoring youth and talking with them during visits at City Hall and City Council meetings.



History will record 2013 as a landmark year for Greer. The city vaulted into an era of prosperity and promise unmatched since the economic boom of 2006-2007.

While BMW Manufacturing was the impetus for residential, commercial and business growth during that period, the City of Greer is the fuse that ignited a second explosion of growth for 2014 that includes residential (more than 1,000 new homes next two years), intermodal transportation (Inland Port), industrial and manufacturing (Michelin, Mitsubishi Polyester Film and BMW), commercial (Kohl’s opening, Belk upfit and restaurants (IHOP, Cook-Out). And more businesses are coming to downtown Greer, including at least two more restaurants.

Greer has been blessed with leaders who have been standard-bearers during this shift to prosperity.

Rick Danner has been shepherding Greer’s movement since he became mayor of Greer in 2000. He is two years into his fourth term and is recognized as the face of Greer. More than that, Danner is also the point person in the phrase Sen. Verne Smith coined, “Greer is the center of the universe.”

Mayor Rick Danner is GreerToday.com Person of the Year for 2013.

Danner, Vice President of Business Development and Community Relations at Greer State Bank, has visited China twice in the past 18 months, traveled throughout the U.S. as a member of the Local Leaders Council for Smart Growth America, is a member of various civic and non-profit organizations, active in church (Victor Baptist Church), participates in numerous community activities and is a key member of Partnership for Tomorrow.  

As a salute to Independence Day, Danner and his wife, Rita, host a neighborhood July 4 parade that he said represents everything “Americana.”

“On a national and international level, it’s been part and parcel what this journey for the last (13-14) years has led to,” Danner said. “We’ve come a long way since 2000 when I was elected. We’ve grown a lot, and we’ve accomplished a lot. And the same thing has happened to me personally. It’s been an opportunity to take me to the next level, and I felt like it is an appropriate one.”

Greer’s form of government is a weak mayor-council system where the mayor has no formal authority outside of council. The mayor’s influence is based on one’s personality in order to accomplish goals. Thus Danner is as much an ambassador for the city as he is a mayor.

“Ambassador is a very appropriate term for him,” said Ed Driggers, City Administrator.  “That is a large part of his role and our form of government. He exercises his role as ambassador well. He is a goodwill spokesperson for the city and sets the stage for things to happen and then works with our elective officials and our staff for those things to follow through.”

Greer Police Chief Dan Reynolds said Danner portrays, “a very professional image of this city. He knows his business and has all the qualities you need in a mayor. (The mayor) promotes this city, he believes in what he is doing, and he’s committed to the city’s great growth and planned growth. You can tell by looking out there and seeing it happening, and it’s not happening everywhere.”

Driggers came to Greer partly because of Danner’s influence in Greer. “When you are looking to go to a community, they are interviewing you, but you better be interviewing them as well because you don’t want to make a bad decision,” Driggers said. “I am fourteen years into this gig. That doesn’t mean another mayor and I wouldn’t work well together. Mayors come and go like anything else.  But at the same time Rick and I enjoy an excellent working relationship. Rick and I enjoy a friendship.  So that helps us work through things that need to be done.”

“(Mayor Danner) is a tremendous asset in terms of economic development and always has been willing to go the extra mile,” said Reno Deaton, Executive Director of Greer Development Corp. “Sometimes that includes a call to prospects. It may include meetings with groups that might be considering coming to our community.

“Perhaps most importantly, and I put Mayor Danner and council in this class, is the way they conduct their business in such a professional manner.  (Danner)  gives, I think, our prospects a great deal of comfort in knowing that in choosing Greer they are choosing a very reliable, understandable, forthright community. “He has done a phenomenal job and has done so for a long time.”

“I see it primarily as part of my role,” Danner said. “People ask their students, ‘what does the mayor do?’ Well part of what I do is attend legislative and council meetings. But the truth of the matter is we’ve got a weak mayor form of government on that side of the house. So building those relationships and building the ability to do stuff on that side is one part of the job, but as equally important and possibly maybe even more important, is my role as the face of Greer.

“As the elective official at large in the city of Greer my responsibility is to represent who and what our city is. I think because of the past several years, who and what we are has become more national and international.  I think that’s reflective in my trips and my involvement in Smart Growth and some of the others. I truly see that as part of my role.”

Neha Bhatt is Deputy Director of Policy Development & Implementation for Smart Growth America. Danner is among 20 selected for the council from an original pool of 200. “Mayor Danner is one of the folks who get smart growth and has implemented it well in Greer,” Bhatt said.

Downtown Greer’s revitalization, scheduled for a $2.5 million aesthetic and infrastructure facelift in 2015, and its transportation improvements, $1 million for new lighting along the Wade Hampton Boulevard corridor this year, are two examples of smart growth that Danner helped steer through city council last June.

Bhatt said downtowns are becoming more a deal maker or breaker. “Employers and companies are now exploring downtowns as a quality of life issue when they are thinking of locating in a community.”

Danner has become an integral part of Greer’s China connection through Greg Hall’s Century 3, Inc., and Upstate Alliance. He has hosted China delegations at City Hall and been invited to Upstate functions with visiting Chinese interests. Smart Growth America has allowed Danner to see how contemporary cities are managing their future growth.

“There’s not one word to describe Mayor Danner. He’s very passionate, he’s a very effective speaker and very smart,” Bhatt, of Smart Growth, said. “He’s one of those leaders who understand revitalization, economic development and quality of life. He’s looking 20-30-40 years out and at broad strategies through a small lens.”

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Businesses mentioned in this article.

Greer State Bank

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