Chamber ambassadors expect Florence growth

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce ambassadors from several organizations and businesses from around the area met Wednesday at Hotel Florence for a luncheon to kick off the 2018 year.

The Chamber announced Zach Hearne of Signature Wealth Strategies as the 2017 Ambassador of the Year.

“It’s humbling to be a part of seeing so much growth in Florence,” Hearne said. “Growing up being a Florence local, Florence wasn’t always what it is today. Just being able to see that growth has been exciting. There’s definitely been some sentimental value for me.”

Hearne, a former Francis Marion University soccer player, said he is excited about a new soccer complex being built on U.S. 76 just off Interstate 95.

“I’m looking forward to another year of strong growth,” Hearne said. “I think the soccer complex will help continue to build our tourism industry.”

Kristin Nesmith, of Adams Outdoor Advertising, finished second and Ellen Cooke, the owner of Freeman’s Bakery, finished third in the standings.

The points for ambassadors are accumulated through attendance at different events put on by the Chamber, hosting events, bringing guests and introducing new members to the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

Jay Lavrinc, Director of Membership Relations at the Chamber, said the Chamber has 631 members, and approximately 55 percent of the membership comes from small businesses.

“There are new ones coming in every year,” Lavrinc said. “Over last year, the net gain was around 70 new businesses to join the chamber.”

Membership in the chamber provides opportunities for businesses to grow in the Florence community and network with other business owners to go along with many other benefits.

The Chamber’s mission is “to promote and enhance a favorable business climate and improve the quality of life to make Florence … the best community in which to live and operate a business.”

“I am truly excited about the outlook for 2018,” Lavrinc said. “We are seeing an influx of new and existing business joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. We have a great ambassador group that acts as an extension of the chamber while representing their own businesses in the community. I anticipate we will see major growth continuing in Florence this year.”

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