In this July 2017 file photo, America in Bloom judges Jack Clasen and Bruce Riggs learn about Greenwood’s drought resistant garden on Thursday morning from chief horticulturalist Ann Barklow. Also shown is Sarah Bradley, a member of Barklow’s staff.

A new look for Greenwood’s tourism campaign, emerging partnerships with local schools and enhanced curb appeal in front of Uptown businesses is giving city officials confidence that this year’s America in Bloom contest could be more successful than ever.

“America in Bloom is a great community development resource for Greenwood. Each year, the judges are always impressed with our community and supply with valuable recommendations and suggestions for improvement,” said Kelly McWhorter, Visit Greenwood SC executive director.

Now in its fourth year as part of the America in Bloom competition, McWhorter said the city’s participation has led to a range of new initiatives and programs — with several new ones on tap based on 2018’s judging.

Officials created a “Green Team for Greenwood” that is focused on developing new environmentally sustainable approaches, such as a collaboration with Fujifilm and Upstate Forever to bring hydration stations into Uptown by late summer.

“From the overall impression criteria, shade systems were installed at the Uptown Market — a direct recommendation from last year’s judges,” McWhorter said. They also suggested more vibrant landscapes in front of retail establishes to enhance curb appeal.

McWhorter said the city plans to submit its “Tweet on Main Street,” a collaboration with Pinecrest and Woodfields Elementary students to create a wayfinding path, as “Best Idea” during this year’s judging.

“Judges have already commented that this is a great partnership and fantastic concept to share with other AIB communities,” McWhorter said.

It’s the fourth year the city has taken part in the program — which spans 250 communities across 41 states. Judges are Nikki Springer, who is an environmental consultant and former chief of domestic landscaping for Walmart and Sam’s Club, and Teresa Woodard, who writes and produces garden stories for national publications.

In addition to receiving written evaluations from judges citing the strengths and opportunities for improvement, America in Bloom participants get a “bloom rating” and a special mention from what judges deem to be an extraordinary project or program.

Springer and Woodward will be in Greenwood on June 20 and 21, evaluating efforts in the areas of overall impression, environmental efforts, heritage, landscaped areas, urban forestry, floral displays and community involvement in the municipal, commercial and residential sectors.

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.