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For Alumni Couple, Investing in Community is Twofold

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Gary and Apryl Bailey, graduates of the Anderson University College of Business, are committed to Laurens, South Carolina—the place they call home. They are also committed to Anderson University—the place where they grew spiritually and professionally. 

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Gary and Apryl purchased a dilapidated building and transformed it into an award-winning destination in downtown Laurens that houses their firm, Love Bailey and Associates Certified Public Accountants, along with an event space and soon a restaurant.

The three-story, 20,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1907 on Laurens’ historic square, received the Gaines Jontz Rehabilitation Award from Main Street South Carolina, an initiative of the South Carolina Municipal Association that encourages economic development and historic preservation.

The Bailey Building’s rebirth is a testament to the Baileys’ investment in preserving the downtown landmark, with the help of the City of Laurens, Main Street Laurens, the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, Greenway Construction and In-Site Designs.

Gary and Apryl feel Anderson University gave them a great start in their accounting career—something they’ve never forgotten.

Gary, who had been the chief financial officer of a manufacturing company, partnered in 2010 with George Love, who is now retired. After living in Columbia for a while, He and Apryl moved to Laurens, where her great-grandfather was born, and they were able to purchase land from Duke Power where he used to operate a small hydroelectric generating plant at a pond that’s on the property.

The Bailey’s accounting firm was growing as they branched out to serve clients from across South Carolina, and their existing space was getting maxed out.

“We were two blocks down the street and really needed more space for our staff. We were using closets for interns, so there’s a building on our square that we had admired for a decade,” Apryl said.

Gary and Apryl sought the former bank building, feeling it would provide them ample room for growth. After researching tax credits available for renovating historic buildings, the Baileys took a leap of faith and invested $2.5 million in to purchase it. But before they could move in, much had to be done to counter several decades of neglect.

“The second and third floor had been abandoned for about 50 years,” Gary said. “It was a massive building that had holes through the roof.”

“We started renovations in about June of ’21 and finished in April of ’22,” Apryl said. “The CPA firm takes up the whole second floor. On the third floor, it was historically already a banquet hall. We had to redo electrical and plumbing, install an elevator, redo plaster, fix holes that were in the floor and install a sprinkler system.”

The third floor is now the Palmetto Room, a venue for wedding receptions and other kinds of gatherings. The Baileys have also purchased a Groucho’s Deli franchise and the popular restaurant will open on the historic building’s first floor in June, 2024.

“We work here, we live here, and we want to share the blessings that we’ve received by investing into the town, in the square,” Gary said. “Other families that are here locally have done the same. It’s sort of contagious. Another family has started to do the same thing—they’re investing in the town. It’s like a family town. You hang out here on the weekends. We have several local restaurants owned and operated by local families, and to know all of these families, it’s really fun to know you’re supporting the community.”

Just as they are committed to Laurens, Gary and Apryl are committed to Anderson University, the place that set them on the path to a successful accounting career. In addition to having served on alumni and athletic boards, they’ve provided numerous career opportunities to Anderson University students.

“We offer full time internships to two students during the summer and our hope is that they will like us and we will like them and then hire them full time,” Gary said. “We usually do that before they graduate, so after their junior year, they can have full time employment lined up before they start their senior year. That’s kind of the goal and it’s worked out because we had a lot of students who interned with us who now work for us full time.”

In addition to providing internships and career opportunities to AU students, Gary and Apryl say that the Bailey Building project itself involved AU graduates. At In-Site, a Greenville interior design firm, graduate Graceanna Judy of the Anderson University School of Interior Design worked on the renovation designs. Also, Greenway Construction contracted with Six and Twenty Films, owned by Anderson University graduate Ben Tinsley, to document work on the building. (School of Interior Design graduate Ashton Acosta assisted the Baileys on a residential project.)

Now, a new generation in the Bailey family has joined the Trojan community, as their son Zek entered as an incoming freshman for the fall semester. Gary and Apryl appreciate Anderson University’s commitment to providing a Christ-centered education.

“They’re working on the total student. It’s not only about accounting, it’s about complete development, like character,” Apryl said.

Photo credits: Anna Kate Photography (Baileys) and Electric Soul (Bailey Building photos)




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