Carolinas Hospital System will construct a new 10,300 square-foot Emergency Department

Carolinas Hospital System will construct a new 10,300 square-foot Emergency Department in West Florence, investing a total of $11.2 million and creating 32 new full-time jobs.

The project will provide the first 24/7 emergency care facility in West Florence, one of the fastest-growing residential areas in Florence County.

Kyle Baxter, Chief Operating Officer of Carolinas Hospital System, said the project is designed to fill a gap in services in the Florence area. Demand for emergency room services is increasing, he said, while existing patient care facilities are concentrated on the east side of the city, a 15- to 20-minute drive from many residential areas.

“Carolinas Hospital System is committed to providing quality healthcare to our community. This new free standing emergency department will make emergency care more accessible to residents and visitors of the Pee Dee region,” said Vance Reynolds, Chief Executive of Carolinas Hospital System.

Baxter said Carolinas Hospital System also hopes its investment will catalyze further development in the area, helping to support the growth of jobs and services in West Florence and Timmonsville.

“This is exciting for our community. Carolinas Hospital System is dedicated to the healthcare of our citizens and continues to support the growth of the Pee Dee Region,” said C. Edward Floyd, M.D., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carolinas Hospital System.

The new facility will be located at the corner of Twin Church Road and West Palmetto Street, at the entrance to the new City of Florence Soccer Complex developed jointly by the City of Florence, Florence County and the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation. Construction is expected to begin in July and be completed by April 2019.

Eggs Up Grill will open in Florence

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Eggs Up Grill, a breakfast and lunch restaurant chain, will be the newest tenant in the North Beltline shopping center across from West Florence High School beginning this summer.

Eggs Up Grill is a South Carolina-based company with more than 22 locations in the state and several in both North Carolina and Georgia.

Dean Patel, the owner of the Sumter and Florence locations, said expanding to Florence was the right move for the company.

“We’ve been working on that site [in Florence] for well over a year now,” Patel said. “We’ve been trying to find a new location and we thought being in the middle of the retail district and being surrounded by residential property would be a good move for us.”

The restaurant serves an array of breakfast foods and lunch items, including eggs, sausage, bacon, breakfast sandwiches, eggs benedict, a variety of signature omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toast, burgers, a variety of sandwiches, salads and soups, wraps and other items.

Lisa Williams, Patel’s business partner, as well as the operations manager at the Sumter location and director of the Florence location, said that Florence will provide a bigger market for the restaurant.

“It was a new location that my partner researched extensively,” Williams said. “The high school and residential areas looked like a good place to start and grow from there. I really believe that Florence could have the opportunity to have two Eggs Up Grill locations before it’s all said and done because of its large market.”

Williams said Eggs Up Grill is a very popular stop down on the Grand Strand, where many Florence residents spend their summer vacations.

“When people go and vacation, they look to stop at Eggs Up Grill,” Williams said. “In a way, we’re kind of bringing those memories of the beach and vacation to the residents with them being able to have an option that they used to only have down at the beach or in Pawley’s Island.”

Patel echoed the sentiments of his business partner.

“We would search out Eggs Up Grill for breakfast when we were down at the beach,” Patel said. “The food and customer service are always great. We really believe that the quality, service and food will be well-received in Florence.”

Williams said that Eggs Up Grill will provide a “daytime restaurant” option in the midst of many evening-specialty establishments.

“It’s a really good concept,” Williams said. “People are looking for a clean establishment with quality food and good customer service. I’m positive that it will do well because there’s nothing really like it.”

Patel said the restaurant is eyeing an opening in mid-June, but it will depend on several factors.

“I’m anxious,” Patel said. “It depends on construction and permits, things like that. We’re really looking forward to being a part of the Florence location and getting this new store open.”

The restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit

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Florence Chamber sponsors Spring Golf Classic

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Business people from around the Pee Dee gathered at the Traces Golf Club in Florence on Thursday afternoon for a round of golf, networking opportunities and fun.

A total of 21 teams made up of business leaders and employees competed in the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Spring Golf Classic, presented by Raldex Hospitality.

The tournament is one of two golf classics the chamber hosts each year; the second will be in October. Florence businesses entered teams of four to compete in the tournament for the chance to take home some hardware.

 While there was a competition, Chamber President Mike Miller said the event is an even better opportunity for local business owners to connect with one another.

“This event is rather special because the local business leaders get together, have some fun and play some golf,” Miller said. “It couldn’t be a more perfect day; it’s really a ‘Chamber of Commerce’ weather type of day. It’s a great way to mingle with business friends and have a good time.”

The day began with a lunch catered by Pee Dee Food Service before a shotgun start at noon. Teams were able to play the Meadow and Creekside courses with six “prize holes” for several different skills, including longest drive, closest to the pin and a Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing Inc. hole-in-one challenge on the seventh hole of the Meadows course.

Miller said the golf classic wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Raldex, which was the presenter of the tournament. The company provided a “hospitality hole” at the Creekside course, which allowed golfers to stop and pick up free souvenirs, drinks and freshly grilled wings with a secret sauce.

In addition to Raldex, several vendors including the chamber, Florence RedWolves baseball, M2 Marketing & Promotions, ServiceMaster Fire & Water Restoration, WebsterRogers and Young Professionals of Florence sponsored hospitality holes.

Miller said seeing the businesses come together makes this one of his favorite chamber events.

“This is what it’s all about, having fun and people getting together” Miller said.

When the final tally was complete, Hodge Ethridge Agency came away with the tournament win and South State Bank finished second.

Pepsi was the beverage sponsor and Dilmar Oil Company was the birdie sponsor of the event.

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Clarke & Company cuts ribbon on new downtown Florence office space

By: Andrew Boardwine

FLORENCE, S.C. — Clarke & Company Benefits celebrated the grand opening of its new office at 122 S. Irby St. Tuesday afternoon.

Employees and executives from the company joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting.

Norman Clarke, owner of the Columbia-based business, said the company had been looking for new offices due to growth over the past couple of years.

“We looked at several places, but really liked the downtown area,” Clarke said. “We really like our office because it’s close to everything in downtown and we have room to grow. We want to be part of the community and the downtown business community.”

Clarke & Company bought Insurance Services of South Carolina, a local company, three and a half years ago. Since then, Clarke said, the company has enjoyed being a part of the Florence area and seeing the development of the community.

“We like what’s going on downtown,” Clarke said. “We really like the accessibility. Everything is in walking distance of what you need and the business community is so close. A lot of our clients are downtown, so it was just a great fit.”

Clarke & Company insures companies of all sizes. Clarke said the company offers insurance products and helps human resources departments with modern technology and an array of different tools.

“Our real job is to help employers and bring value to the employer,” Clarke said. “We’re not just offering insurance, we’re offering technology. We’re trying to make buying insurance a little easier and making things a little bit more efficient for them.”

In addition to the ribbon cutting, Clarke & Company celebrated the grand opening of its new offices by holding a Tax Reform Seminar from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., which featured speakers Joe Griffin and Leann Childs with WebsterRogers, who talked about the new tax bill and how it will affect local businesses going forward.

Some of the topics discussed were the lowered corporate tax rate, the new Section 199A Deduction for owners of pass-through entities, and depreciation tax breaks.

Following the seminar, the company showed off its new office space to attendees with light refreshments.

For more information, visit

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Business Opportunity Breakfast recap

About 40 small & minority businesses and community leaders were present at Victors Downtown Florence for the Chamber’s Business Opportunity Breakfast. Attendees learned about the purchasing process with the City of Florence and other major corporations.

Presenters included representatives from Honda of South Carolina, SC Department of Transportation, SC Division of Small and Minority Business Certification and Contracting (SMBCC) and the City of Florence.

Bi-Lo on Pamplico Highway sold to Food Lion

By: Don Kausler, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Food Lion is acquiring the Bi-Lo store in south Florence and plans to open its sixth grocery store in Florence later this year.

Bi-Lo will have no more stores in Florence. Less than a year ago, it closed its store on West Palmetto Street.

“Making a decision like this to sell a store to another retailer is definitely not made lightly, but it made sense from a business standpoint,” said Joe Caldwell, a senior manager of corporate communication and sports partnerships for Southeastern Grocers in Jacksonville, Florida.

Three other Bi-Lo stores in South Carolina are being sold to Food Lion: one in Myrtle Beach, one in Surfside Beach and one on Two North Road in Columbia.

“We anticipate closing this transaction in late May,” said Benny Smith, a spokesman at the Food Lion corporate office in Salisbury, North Carolina. “We’re really excited about our openings.”

There are no plans to close any Food Lions in Florence, Smith said, including two near the Pamplico Highway location. One store is two miles south at 2600 S. Irby St., and another one is 3.6 miles west at 1307 Second Loop Road.

“We’re always known as being right there in the community for our customers,” Smith said.

Food Lion also has Florence locations on North Cashua Drive, East Palmetto Street and West Palmetto Street. It has three other stores in the Pee Dee: one each in Darlington, Marion, Dillon and Bennettsville.

Bi-Lo still has stores in the Pee Dee in Darlington, Hartsville and Kingstree.

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Magnolia Mall’s new stores, jobs a contrast to experience in other parts of US

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — While malls around the U.S. begin to dwindle, Magnolia Mall in Florence is experiencing growth unlike anything it has seen before.

Magnolia Mall, at 2701 David H McLeod Blvd., opened in 1979 and sees hundreds to thousands of Pee Dee residents visit its stores daily.

Kelsey Hill is marketing manager for PREIT, the mall’s parent company.

“Magnolia Mall is a staple in the Florence community and we are always looking for new and exciting ways to cater to the residents whether it’s with our fun events or favorite retailers,” Hill said. “Also, by bringing in new stores and restaurants, we are able to add hundreds of jobs to aid in the growth and success of the Florence area.”

While it seems that the Magnolia Mall is trending toward an increase in growth, Credit Suisse, a global financial service corporation, predicted that up to 25 percent of the nation’s malls could close by 2020. The service suggests changes in consumer shopping habits and failing department stores as reasons malls have been dwindling.

Joe Coradino, chairman and CEO of PREIT, said that the company is breaking the trend by staying “out in front of the problem.”

“We get tenants that are going to drive more traffic and drive more sales to our properties,” Coradino said. “The rationalization that has occurred in the department store space has been a good thing. We didn’t need that many and the result is that you replace them. We’ve differentiated to dining, entertainment, health and beauty, fitness, on and on and on.”

Hill added that the company is always looking to add and change things in its malls that will create a better experience for its customers.

“PREIT is continuously looking to improve the quality of our portfolio through innovative twists on the shopping mall framework and the addition of in-demand retailers and fresh experiences,” Hill said.

The mall made renovations to the food court and has added several new retailers in 2017 and early 2018, including Burlington, Five Below and Journey Kidz.

HomeGoods is set to open on Sunday, May 6, in between Burlington and Five Below and H&M will open in the mall later this year.

In the outparcel locations, Chick-fil-A will become a full-service, sit-down 5,000-square-foot restaurant after being a drive-thru only restaurant for the past 25 years. PREIT also announced the addition of a Texas Roadhouse, which will go out near IHOP and is set to begin construction in November.

“We are thrilled to be continuously offering our shoppers additions and improvements,” Hill said. “2018 is a huge year for us and you will see plenty more new, remodeled, and expanded stores. We know everyone will be thrilled with some of the other retailers that we will be announcing very soon.”

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