Uptown to honor Blanchard Thursday

Uptown Columbus, Inc., a downtown revitalization organization, will honor two of its founders Thursday at a luncheon at the Trade & Convention Center.

Retired Synvous Financial Corp. Chairman Jim Blanchard will receive the first Rozier Dedwylder Leadership Award. The annual honor has been established in memory of Dedwylder, a Columbus architect who died nearly two years ago.

Blanchard was the spark in the early-1980s to establish and organization that would address downtown issues such as blight, vacant store front, porn theaters and crime. Blanchard challenged political, business and civic leaders to work to to turn around the city's central business district, which had been in a steady two-decade decline.

Dedwylder was one of those leaders who answered the call. He was the first executive director of Uptown Inc., and began acquiring property that was later used for some of the city's major attactions, including the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts and the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

Charleston, S.C. Mayor Joe Riley Jr., who was sworn in earlier this week for his eighth term, will be the keynote speaker. He plans to talk about revilatization. More than 300 people are expected to attend.