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Riverside town flourished then, flourishing now

Granville’s rich history perseveres with booming entrepreneurship and an invigorated community Home is more than just a place to lay your head in Granville — it’s a place where picnics with family, summer days on the Mon River and indulging in locally made cuisine are just the beginning. Established in 1814, Granville, originally Grandville, flourished as a riverside town. The area boomed in the 1830s, growing with the coal industry’s heyday during the early 1900s. By the late 20th century, the town offered a variety of services to its residents and visitors, including a diner, barber shop, elementary school and an annual carnival. While relics of its rich history now exist only in memories and photographs, Granville has entered a new era, taking another step in its centuries-long le gacy. In 2020, Nikki Bowman Mills, founder of New South Media, and Michael Mills, founder of Mills Group, acquired 10 warehouses in Granville, once home to establishments like Bubba’s Garage, DeCarlo Discount House and Office Shopper’s Paradise. Their vision was clear: to cultivate a cohesive group of businesses that will platform the best of West Virginia and spotlight Granville as a bountiful community. With the development of New South Square, their plans have been brought to life. Located along Granville’s historic Main Street, New South Square is a bustling hub encompassing retail and restaurant The F.A.R.M., event venue The Silo in the Square, pastry kitchen and caterer This and That Bakery and publisher New South Media. At its core, New South Square is an extension of the Millses’ goals to tell West Virginia’s story and redefine the narrative surrounding the state. “When I started my company, New South Media, my mission was to change perceptions of West Virginia,

not just how other people looked at us as West Virginians, but how we look at o u r s e l ve s, ” said Bowman Mills. “And how do we do that? By championing each other and championing other businesses — because we’re all in this to gether.” The F.A.R.M. is proof of this endeavor. The market presents a collection of products by West Virginia vendors ranging from apparel and home goods to art and food, all curated by Bowman Mills during her travels across the state. As you venture further into the market, you find the food and recreation side, where freshly cooked meals or grab-and-go refreshments are served to patrons in a comfortable sitting area. The business showcases West Virginia from wall to wall, and when you purchase an item, you’re also purchasing its purely Appalachian s t o r y. Yet, New South Square is more than a commercial venture. The community remains at the center of its vision, with a variety of events and fundraisers. Beyond scheduled events, The F.A.R.M. has become a community cornerstone, a place for locals to gather. The local fire and police departments share their lunches there, students flock for after-school snacks and neighbors frequent the restaurant for freshly cooked meals that taste like home. “It’s rewarding. We both grew up in families that had businesses, and we saw the rewards of owning their own businesses,” said Mills. “We ’ve built great relationships around the folks that come in every day. We feel like we’re building community. Their hope is that New South Square will serve as a guiding light for aspiring entrepreneurs to plant their blossoming business in Granville’s fruitful soil. “Our hope really would be that we could inspire and help elevate the area and that we could attract more young energy, too,” said Bowman Mills. “Hopefully we can inspire other people to take that leap and say, ‘You can be the change; you can be a vested part of the community and help change the trajectory of that town.’ T hat’s what I really h o p e. ” Looking ahead, New South Square has plans for a mural welcoming visitors to Granville. Mills aims to collaborate with the town to assess the cohesion of the town’s amenities and pave the way for future growth. Meanwhile, other newcomers planting their roots in the town include Dent’s Run Antiques and Artisans and Ultimate Shine Car Wash. “It is refreshing to see more businesses looking at our community and the interest in making our town stronger and more attractive, not only for future business investments, but also for resid e n t s, ” said Granville Mayor Patricia Lewis. “This and That Bakery, The F.A.R.M. and The Silo send out the vibe that small businesses can experience great success in small communities.” Granville offers a stretch of flat land unique in the state, affordability and breathtaking views of the Mon River. In 2022, the city enhanced this experience with the installation of the area’s first and only boat launch and a new piece of playground equipment at its public park. Over the next several years, plans are in place to gravel and expand the boat l a u n ch ’s parking area, install additional docks for fishing and consider handicapped accommodations for kayaking. Before the year’s end, two new traffic signals will be installed on University Town Centre Drive, one at the intersection of Sesame Drive, Wendy’s and Granville Square, and another at Walmart and WVU Medicine. “I would invite anyone traveling through our area to stop by and take a look at what Granville has to of fer,” said Lewis. As Granville embraces its rich history and steps into a new era, the hard work and warmth of its community remain center stage. Whether you’re passing through or putting down roots, Granville welcomes you with open arms.

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