By: Brenda Harrison, The News Journal
We’ve watched and maneuvered around the construction at the former Florence Civic Center for the past year and now the work has been completed.
With a new name and new look, The Florence Center showed off its expanded space following a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 24 with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.
The new addition and renovation adds 25,000 square feet to the facility for a total of 75,000 square feet of flexible space.
The $16 million expansion project began in January 2017. It includes 8,000 sq. ft. of space which can be subdivided into large or small meeting rooms, a junior ballroom, a new 5,000 sq. ft. state-of-the art kitchen, an 8,000 sq. ft. outdoor patio, and a 12,000 sq. ft. pre-function and vendor spaces, along with enhancements to existing spaces.
This expansion extends available services in the conference, wedding, convention and trade show business, said Paul Beard, Director of the Florence Center.
When the venue opened in 1993, he said, it was celebrated as a civic arena with a couple meeting rooms. Now it is a major conference center adjoining a 10,000-seat arena, he noted, before announcing three new events that will be housed at the Florence Center this year.
The Pee Dee State Fair will take place Sept. 6-16, he continued. The South Carolina Bridal Show will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30, from 1 to 5 p.m. and the new Jingle Bell Market will take place on Nov. 15.
Beard stressed that no tax dollars were spent on the project. He also noted that the economic impact of the Civic Center was $42 million and that those funds help drive what’s going on downtown as well as in the hospitality district.
“This puts heads in beds every time we have an event,” he commented. With us being located at the intersections of I-20 and I-95, we are literally almost dead center geographically for New York and Miami.”
Nick Hooker, senior marketing manager at the Florence Center said it is exciting to be kicking off the new space in conjunction with the Center’s 25th anniversary. It is time to take the Center to a new level, he said, adding he looks forward to continue growing with Florence.