City of Florence provides and update on hurricane clean up.

The City of Florence is announcing the plan of action for the next phase of the clean up of our city from
the impact of Hurricane Matthew. “Our top priority is to ensure that the needs of our residents and businesses are being addressed timely. It is also important for our residents to know what the City can and cannot assist them with. We hope that the next phase of our disaster relief plan will provide clarification and much needed resources to the people of Florence,” stated Drew Griffin, Florence City Manager.

For information on the next phase of the clean up click here.

S.C.-based Sonoco hopes clear cans are the future of food

Article/Picture Credit: Thad Moore, The Post and Courier

The hot new thing in canned food sits halfway down an aisle at Harris Teeter, flanked by aluminum tins splashed with pictures that show vegetables at their peak. Their wrappers show beans of all sorts neatly piled, piping hot and glistening just so, many set against a backdrop of rolling farmland.

The newcomer cuts the pretense: It’s see-through and plastic, a clear plastic tube with metal ends. You can see the pinto beans jiggle inside when they’re jostled.

It’s just beans and broth, but if one of South Carolina’s biggest companies has its way, that might be enough to breathe new life into the faltering business of marketing and selling canned food.

McCall Farms is using Sonoco’s clear cans at its Florence operation (above). Provided/McCall Farms

Americans, it turns out, aren’t all that interested in eating food out of cans these days. Buying fresh is in vogue, so when shoppers walk into the supermarket, they’re increasingly wandering past the produce section, the butcher or the bakery, not the aisles of shelf-stable packages in the middle.

Sonoco wants to change their minds. The Hartsville-based packaging giant thinks a clear can might make consumers rethink packaged food. If they can see the green beans or the peaches inside, the company figures, maybe they’ll seem fresher.

“We’re never going to be as fresh as fresh, but (we want to) have some level of fresh in the center,” said Melissa Lewis, who’s heading up marketing for Sonoco’s new cans

Read more of the online article here:–based-sonoco-hopes-clear-cans-are-the/article_8b981872-bcbb-11e6-8a3b-73b42afe6eba.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

BUSINESS YEAR IN REVIEW: Success includes downtown development, plant expansions

Article/Picture Credit: Joe Perry, Morning News

Third in a series

FLORENCE, S.C. – In the world of business and industry, the biggest wave was felt late this year when Patheon announced it would take over Roche Carolina Inc.’s Florence facility with plans already in place to expand the 300,000-square-foot site.

As Honda and McCall Farms announced plans for expansions, as the retail sector and hospitality industry saw steady growth and as downtown continued to transform, there was still an outlier to all the positive developments: What would happen to Roche Carolina after company officials announced last fall that its Florence operation and three sister sites in Europe were up for sale?

The thorn in the side of 2016’s otherwise stellar successes was plucked by Patheon, which announced in late November that it will take over Roche in Florence, keep 200 jobs and expand its ability to manufacture API, or active pharmaceutical ingredients. An 80,000-square-foot pilot plant also will be brought back to life as Patheon looks to fully realize its Florence investment.

Joe W. King certainly thinks 2016 was a good year. As the executive director of Florence County Progress, he said he doesn’t want to view one aspect of the always in flux world of economic development – Patheon coming to town – as the “highlight” of the year, though he’s quick to acknowledge “it’s big news.”

“And I think Patheon is a good corporate citizen and will bring international attention to Florence,” he said, “which is a great thing.”

Without Patheon stepping in, it was likely Roche’s plant would have been mothballed, he said.

In his line of work, King is careful to give plenty of attention to existing industry and sees a trio of big announcements on the horizon – one probably by the end of the first quarter and the other two in the second quarter of 2017.

“I think ’16 was good and I think ’17 will be as good,” he said, based on “what we have in the pipeline, the inquiries we’re getting.”

With pent-up demand and a pending change in leadership in our nation’s capital, King thinks conditions are ripe for economic growth.

“You’re going to see things happen,” he said.

Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce President Mike Miller sees the continued expansion of the hospitality industry and views Patheon’s deal with Roche as “more of a comforting thing.”

“It could’ve been bad news,” he said.”

Read more of this story online here:

Icing Ink joins the Florence Chamber


Icing Ink recently joined the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, December 6th at their location on 3360 W. Palmetto. Icing Ink owned and operated by Rebekah Osman is not just a cake shop. Opened initially an upscale Cake shop, Icing Ink has expanded their offerings of the last two years to include cupcakes, pastries and the like. The also offer gluten free and no sugar baked goods as well. This small shop decorated in lively colors provides great offerings. So if you are in the mood for a treat go visit Icing Ink.

Locked Inn hosts ribbon cutting after joining Florence Chamber

Article/Photo Credit: Joe Perry, The Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C. – Locked Inn hosted a ribbon cutting Thursday after recently joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

A live adventure escape room experience like nothing else in the Pee Dee, Locked Inn is inside the Gould Business Incubator on the campus of Florence-Darlington Technical College and opened its doors in July. Lakewood Lodge was the first room and participants had to figure out how to escape from a cabin occupied by a serial killer set to return in one hour.

Players sift through clues and solve puzzles to get out, and the same format is in place for Submerged. The second room at Locked Inn puts you inside a submarine that has sunk to the sea floor and holds an hour’s worth of air.

Owned by Maureen Allen and her brother Gavin Smith, Locked Inn has proven popular with couples, groups of friends, and quite a few corporate entities.

“It’s amazing, how well it’s going,” Smith said. “And now that corporate has found out about us, they’re using this for team-building exercises.”

Allen said running Locked Inn has been “a roller coaster” that’s “really fun but really challenging.”

Submerged opened a few weeks ago, and Smith joked that he found it “way more daunting” to get it ready than he’d originally envisioned, but now that that task has been completed, he and his sister look forward to getting the word out. Lakewood Lodge will see a change in its format in a few months.

“But we want to get all we can out of it before we change it up,” he said.

Locked Inn is inside the Gould Business Incubator on the campus of Florence-Darlington Technical College, 1951 Pisgah Road, next to the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology. For more information, check out or call 843-413-3216.

Street Pianos Return to Florence for 3rd Year

On April 21, Play Me I’m Yours will return and remain until May 7, 2017. Pianos will be located throughout Florence and Lake City, available for the public to play and enjoy. The Street Pianos will be personalized and decorated by local artists. Florence is the only location in the Southeast USA this event will take place.

Florence organizers are currently seeking artists to decorate pianos for 2017. Artists interested are encouraged to send a short indication of interest to Painting and decorating will begin in late February and continue through the 1st week of April. Prizes will be awarded for the Most Creative and People’s Choice designs.

In 2017 the event will again feature noon concerts on various instruments by local pianists. A large-scale inflatable sculpture, The Janis Project of artist Frank Hyder, will appear throughout the Florence and Lake City. Hyder’s works have appeared at the Carnegie Museum, CA; LaSalle Museum, PA; National Museum of Catholic Art and History, NYC; Museo Jocobo Borges, Caracas; Art Museum of Coro and many others throughout the world.

An opening night festival will be held April 21 in the Willcox Plaza on W Evans St. The event will include a dueling pianist team and a “Paint a Piano” tent for young artists.

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over six million people worldwide – more than 1,300 pianos have already been installed in 45 cities across the globe, from New York to London, bearing the simple instruction ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’.

Disrupting peoples’ negotiation of their city, Street Pianos are “designed to provoke people into engaging, activating and claiming ownership of their urban landscape”, says one of the organizers, Reynolds Williams. Like a musical equivalent of Facebook, it provides an” interconnected resource for the public to express themselves, meet new friends, and build upon the community.”

The Founding Sponsors include King Cadillac Buick & GMC, the Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation, and the Willcox, Buyck & Williams Foundation. Visit for more information about the project.

This project is made possible through funding from the Florence Regional Arts Alliance’s Quarterly Grants Program, which is funded in part by a generous award from Honda of South Carolina, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.

Second Annual American Heritage Festival

Francis Marion University history professors Dr. Scott Kaufman, and Dr. William K. Bolt will be featured presenters at the second annual American Heritage Festival at Graham’s Historic Farm in Lake City, South Carolina, Dec. 2-4.

The festival, held on a site used by FMU namesake Gen. Francis Marion as a base of operations and a hiding place during the American Revolution, features Revolutionary War enactments, a Colonial Christmas village, food, music and more.

Kaufman, chair of FMU’s Department of History, will kick off a series of historical presentations on Saturday at 10 a.m. with a lecture entitled “Francis Marion: Legend and Lies.” Bolt, an assistant professor of history who specializes in Colonial America, will speak on South Carolina’s role in the conflict, the constitution and the Colonial economy at noon, Saturday.

Students from FMU’s highly decorated Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society will serve in a variety of volunteer roles during the festival.

Festival tickets are $10, $5 for FMU students. Discounts are available for multi-day and group tickets. More information:

FMU is one of several sponsors of the event.

Pharmaceutical company taking over Roche facility

Article/Photo Credit: Joe Perry, Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C. – A little over a year ago, Roche Carolina Inc. announced a restructuring as the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical concern sought a buyer for its Florence facility.


Pharmaceutical developer and manufacturer Patheon announced Monday it has signed an agreement to take over the 300,000-square-foot facility situated on 1,100 acres along Old Marion Highway.

 “Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Patheon will acquire the site for an immaterial sum, plus the cost of associated inventory and spare parts,” a press release on Patheon’s website stated . “Patheon has also entered into a multi-year supply arrangement with Roche. Patheon expects the supply agreement to help defray the costs associated with running the site for the next few years while it adds new client work into the facility. Over time, Patheon expects the Florence facility to have a similar financial profile to its other sites in its drug substance segment,”

Pete Mazzaroni, Roche Carolina’s director of communications, said the deal is expected to be closed “in 30 or so days, plus or minus.” The target date of completion is toward the end of January. The current workforce is approximately 200 people, he said. That number has trended down since a Nov. 12, 2015, announcement from Roche of an impending restructuring that put 270 jobs in limbo. This summer, company officials said the Florence facility would close by 2019 as it sought to divest of that property and three similar sites in Europe. When officials said that in late June, there were 220 people working at the plant.

Mazzaroni said the mood among the workforce is “very positive.”

“The fact is that the goal was to find a reputable buyer to keep the site running and keep as many jobs as possible,” he said. “We look forward to integrating the two companies. Clearly this is good news for the community in keeping the site operational with as many jobs as possible. We were going to ramp down to closure. Obviously those plans have changed as we’ve achieved our primary objective.”

With U.S. headquarters in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park and European headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, Patheon touts $1.8 billion in revenue for 2015 and employs 8,000 people in 26 locations around the globe.

“As the only end-to-end provider of pharma development and manufacturing services, Patheon is uniquely positioned to integrate this new site into our global network and quickly leverage the capabilities with existing and new clients,” James Mullen, Patheon’s CEO, said in the news release. “The company will benefit from the additional North American API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) capacity and adds a state-of-the-art facility with approximately 200 scientific and manufacturing professionals.”

S.C. Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr., R-Florence said Monday he is “absolutely elated” at the news, calling Patheon “a terrific company,” and speculated that there will be “some capital expenditures out there.”

“And from what I understand, they pay good wages and they’re a good company to work for,” he said. “It’s the best thing that could happen to us.”

Florence County Councilman James Schofield said he feels good about Patheon taking over the Florence facility.”

Read the rest of the article online here:

Night of Lights: Cannon & Musket Display

The American Heritage Christmas Festival

December 2nd – 4th

Come celebrate history at The American Heritage Festival in Lake City, South Carolina! Watch the battle reenactments, take a walk through the colonial Christmas village, visit the merchants, grab a beer in the party tent, listen to the speakers, enjoy the bands, and see where Francis Marion’s men hid from Lord Tarleton and brought British prisoners. Night of Light festivities will be held on Saturday, December 3rd.

Battle Reenactments. Cannon & Musket Display. Fife & Drum Corps. Historian Presentations. Christmas Village. Food & Beer Tent. Hayrides. Marshmellow Roast. 

Wreath Decorating. Marsh Tacky Horses. Colonial Circus. Live Music. Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus.