Florence County growth lauded in Columbia on Legislative Day


Article/Photo Credit: Joshua Lloyd, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Every year for the past 16 years business leaders and politicians from Florence County have converged in state’s Capitol for a legislative day that entails a statehouse tour and a talk with politicians about current affairs. This year the progress of major industry in Florence County was the hot-ticket item.

Twenty-five stories above Columbia at the Capitol City Club, Gov. Henry McMaster addressed the movers and shakers of Florence County, and had nothing but positive remarks for the county’s progress.

“Right now Florence County is going off the charts,” McMaster said. “I’ve been going to Florence since I was a child and it’s inspirational to see the changes happening now. The people have always been great but now the performance is catching up with the vision.”

McMaster said Florence is growing right along with places like Charleston and Greenville, something that’s good for the Pee Dee region as a whole. He said business expansions in the county, like GE’s upcoming $40 million project and Honda’s $45 million expansion, are pushing the state’s economy forward.

“We have all the assets in this state to go straight to the top, but the question is what we will do with it,” he said. “We have the vision. We have the institutions. We have the people.”

In addition to McMaster, some of Florence County’s House delegates attebded the event.

Democratic Rep. Roger Kirby said the county is positioned to see even greater growth in the coming years.

“We’ve got the infrastructure. We’ve got the higher education. We’ve got industry. We’ve got solid leadership,” he said. “All the pieces are there. Plus we have a team effort, which will go a long way. We’re quickly becoming a part of the statewide conversation.”

Republican Rep. Phillip Lowe echoed that sentiment.

“The pace that we’re setting with growth is unbelievable,” he said. “Great things have been happening, and I think some more major things are going to happen in the next few years.”

Attendees wrapped up the day with a reception at the Columbia Museum of Art, where state officials got a chance to meet with Florence County businesses.

The Florence County legislative day is funded by Florence County, the city of Florence and Florence County Progress.

SCNow Web Article – Florence County growth lauded in Columbia on Legislative Day


Wendell E. Jones Jr. Named Small Business Person Of The Year


Article/Picture Credit: Jessica Imbimbo, Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C. — Wendell E. Jones Jr. was named the Small Business Person of the Year on Thursday afternoon during the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce 2017 Outlook Luncheon at the Florence Civic Center.

Jones is a financial advisor for Edward Jones Investments whose office is located at 602 S. Coit Street in Florence.

Jones said he was completely surprised when he heard his name announced as this year’s award winner.

“My wife had made up a story that it was for our school our kids went to,” Jones said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Totally blew me away.”

Jones has worked for Edward Jones Investments for more than 20 years. He serves as both a financial advisor for his clients and a regional leader working alongside other advisors in 60 offices throughout the Pee Dee and surrounding counties.

Prior to his career in finance, Jones worked as an engineer for ABB and served in the U.S. Navy as a surface war officer in Operation Desert Storm. Jones earned a degree in electrical engineering and a Master’s in industrial management from Clemson, all while taking finance-related courses when his schedule allowed.

Jones volunteers extensively within his church at First Presbyterian Church where he is a deacon, elder and mentor for his confirmation class. As an Eagle Scout, Jones gives back to the scouting program by volunteering as an assistant scout master and merit badge counselor.

Jones named chamber’s Small Business Person of the Year
In the past, Jones has served as chairman on the board of trustees at All Saint Episcopal Day School and the Florence Symphony.

The Small Business Person of the Year award is sponsored by Dedicated Community Bank and was presented to Jones by the bank’s executive vice president Jim Ivey. Ivey recognized Jones as not only a successful business person and community leader but also a philanthropist and loving husband and father.

“Along with advising numerous client in financial matters and giving of himself throughout his community, Wendell makes family a priority,” Ivey said.

Jones thanked his wife Margaret, and his three children Caroline, Palmer and William, along with the many others in attendance for recognizing him with such a distinguished honor.

“We’re very fortunate. The lord has blessed us to be here and raise a family and build a great business,” Jones said. ” When we came here it was a small community. And now to see what’s going on and to see all the businesses in the downtown area it’s exciting.”

“It’s a whole bunch of people who have all come together. We’re just glad to be a part of it.”

SCNow WebArticle – Wendell E. Jones Jr. Named Small Business Person Of The Year

Lucky Shamrock Festival

For those that haven’t experienced downtown Florence, you’re missing out. Fortunately, you have more chances to enjoy the fun throughout the coming months.


For more pictures from this event, click here.

GE Healthcare launching $40 million expansion, creating 100 new jobs

Photo/Article Credit: Jessica Imbimbo, The Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C. – GE Healthcare will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at their facility on 3001 West Radio Drive to initiate a $40 million expansion that will create approximately 100 new jobs.

State and county leaders, along with GE Healthcare executives and other prominent figures in the Florence area, will attend the groundbreaking scheduled for noon on Tuesday.

According to Greg Cunningham, human resource business partner of GE Healthcare, a select few VIPs will be touring the facility prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. A press release with further details on the expansion and hiring will be circulated Tuesday morning prior to the ceremony.

This expansion comes in the wake of the 16-acre solar farm constructed last summer and a $17 million addition in 2013. Dale Wolf, shop operations executive at GE, said the company is eager to grow during what is a very progressive time for the Florence area.

“We’re excited to build an even larger presence in Florence County and work with even more talented South Carolinians,” Wolf said in an op-ed sent to the Morning News. “We are fortunate to operate in a state that recognizes the importance of manufacturing and is actively supporting additional growth.”

Florence’s 500,000-square-foot facility is responsible for building components for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices and other medical imaging systems. Wolf said each MRI magnet is made up of 2,500 different parts made by 170 different suppliers, and that one component of that single GE product supports 8,400 jobs.

Currently, GE Healthcare employs approximately 350 people in the Florence area, and with the expansion and additional hires, Wolf said GE Healthcare hopes to continue to be an economic leader both locally and statewide.

“We are committed to Florence, and we are honored that Florence and the state of South Carolina is so committed to us in return.””

SCNow Web Article – GE Healthcare launching $40 million expansion, creating 100 new jobs

Annual Building Bridges summit brings community together in spirit of inclusion

Article/Photo Credit: Jessica Imbimbo, The Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C. – More than 40 community leaders attended the Building Bridges Diversity and Leadership Summit on Monday to address diversity issues and discuss ways to promote inclusion in daily life.

Now in its twentieth year, the Building Bridges program enables participants to start a dialogue about otherwise unspoken and typically sensitive topics such as racial or religious division and other types of discrimination.

Members of various Florence companies and organizations attended the summit, including Honda, Florence County Sheriff’s Office, Red Cross, Florence School District One and Francis Marion University, among others. The summit was presented by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and was held on the campus of Carolinas Hospital System at the Floyd Conference Center.

 Les Echols, director of community and minority enterprise at the chamber, was pleased with the turnout and said the assorted mix of people representing various Florence businesses helps spread the program’s message of inclusion even further.

“It’s very important that business people get together and hear the message,” Echols said. “We want to make sure we do our due diligence.”

The program included multiple panel discussions by those in attendance to bring awareness to different types of issues including gender bias, religion in the workplace, and how to be accepting of others’ differences. Moderators helped lead discussions and keep the conversation flowing in a constructive way.

This year’s Building Bridges summit also featured two notable speakers: Teresa Ramey and Dr. Willette Burnham-Williams. Ramey, the vice president of student affairs and dean of students at Francis Marion University, gave a presentation on cultural competency and how it is a key component for inclusion in the workplace.

Ramey said having cultural competency is “having a different mindset” and being able to understand and appropriately respond to different cultural variables without seeming insensitive or offensive.

“It’s a behavior, it’s an action,” Ramey said. “It’s about understanding and giving everyone an opportunity.”

Dr. Williams, chief diversity officer at the Medical University of South Carolina, gave the keynote address. During her speech, Williams talked about her memories of racial segregation as a young girl living in Kingstree and how she strives now as an adult to promote inclusion both in her career and daily interactions.

 Williams mentioned four “p-words” for cultivating inclusion, both as an individual and in a business: principle, purpose, passion and patience. Williams said these four things are critical to achieving professionalism and encouraging diversity within an organization. She also challenged her fellow business leaders in the room to hold both themselves and their coworkers to a high standard when it comes to inclusion.

“We will need the tenacity, the willingness and — somehow — the fortitude to stand up in the midst of the intolerable and say ‘Not today,’” Williams said. “If we’re going to be competitors in the world workforce we have to be inclusionary in what that workforce looks like.”

Williams said the journey toward inclusion is sometimes a lengthy, risky and complex one, but ultimately it is a goal worth achieving.

“You have to carry that torch as leaders in the business and professional community,” Williams said. “You cannot be immobilized. We have to be driven by our principles, our purpose, our passion and our patience.”

SCNow Web Article – Annual Building Bridges summit brings community together in spirit of inclusion

Play Me, I’m Yours pianos to be in Florence, Lake City in April

Article/Photo Credit: Katrina Moses, The Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C.— If you see pianos everywhere you go in the next few weeks, by all means play one.

This is the third year of Play Me I’m Yours, a street arts project. Twenty-three pianos will be placed throughout Florence and Lake City from April 22 to May 7.

The pianos are decorated by artists before being placed on the streets.

The pianos will be judged and prizes will be awarded for Most Creative and People’s Choice. The public can vote for the People’s Choice by calling a phone number on the piano and entering the piano number.

Decorating will continue through the month of March and pianos will be placed in early April. Locations will include many sites in downtown Florence along West Evans and Dargan streets; in city parks including Timrod; and at Florence Darlington Tech, Lula Café, HopeHealth and House of Hope.

Local artists working on the pianos are:

Students at East Clarendon Middle School

Walker Gamble Elementary School- Charlotte Driggers, art teacher

Janis Hobbs and Ellen Walker- National Art Honor Society of Trinity Barnes School, Shawn Thompson coordinator

Dresden Lamb and Carolina Doughty

Gracie Hinson

Tori Metz

Betsy Hannan- Barnes St. Activity Center

Hannah Davis

Joy Gowan of House of Hope

Gina Dyess

Nikki Player

Cory Roberson

Krysten Bevilaqua

Rick Flowers”

SCNow Web Article – Play Me, I’m Yours pianos to be in Florence, Lake City in April

Ribbon Cutting: T & C Events and Floral Boutique

tcfloral tcfloral2

T & C Events and Floral Boutique

Photo/Article Credit: Jessica Imbimbo, The Morning News

T & C Events and Floral Boutique held a ribbon cutting on Thursday, March 9, at 1100 S. Cashua Drive after joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. T & C Events and Floral Boutique is a full event planning service that designs and creates the client’s vision of their special day or event.

Junior Leadership Florence County visits State Capitol

jr2 jr3 jr4

The Junior Leadership Florence County students enjoyed a great day at our State Capitol! Thank you to Senator Leatherman and his staff along with JLFC Advisory Committee member, Celia Urquhart from US Senator Graham’s Office, for the outstanding educational opportunity. The program is made possible by Florence County 4H Clemson Extension Service, The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and Francis Marion University.

Junior Leadership Florence County is modeled after the Florence Chamber’s Leadership Florence program, and is designed for public and private high school sophomores and juniors. It enables students to be able to develop leadership skills, while also increasing their awareness in the communities they live and go to school.

Florence City Council approves incentive package for Red Bone sauce plant


Article Credit: Joshua Lloyd, The Morning News

“FLORENCE, S.C. – Red Bone Alley Foods is about to invest $3.5 million in a downtown sauce bottling facility, and the city of Florence has agreed to kick in some public dollars to help.

The city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve a $200,000 incentive package for project developers, a common move for the city throughout the history of downtown’s redevelopment.

“We do a cost benefit analysis and the amount of potential profit far exceeds that of the cost,” said Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela. “It’s a private investment that will generate revenue into the city and into the downtown district. It’s fantastic.”

The project, which was initially announced in 2015, will create about 30 new service jobs. It’s located at 198 NB Baroody St., in the old Atlantic Storage building.

It was described by Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela as the “anchor” of the Food, Artisan and Warehouse District — which was officially established in Monday’s meeting.

“This will anchor that corridor, and the nature of what it is fits perfectly within the new district,” Wukela said.

RBA Foods is currently utilizing the facility for bottling and packaging purposes, but on a small-scale level. The forthcoming project will bring with it redevelopment of the facility and local production.

Previously, RBA Foods used companies in California and Texas to make their private-label products for grocery store chains like Safeway, Kroger and Harris Teeter. Currently, Red Bone Alley Foods sells products in all 50 states, in more than 5,000 retail locations.”

Read more of this article by clicking the link below.

SCNow Web Article – Florence City Council approves incentive package for Red Bone sauce plant