Florence County Wraps Up Year of Business Growth in 2019

by Nia Watson

Florence County is wrapping up 2019 with success in business and job growth.

This year the area secured a total of $89 million in industry investment along with 403 incoming jobs.

There were two big projects announced this year.

It was announced in August that the Texas chain gas station and convenience store, Buc-ees, will be located at the intersection of Interstate 95 and S.C. 327. And McCall Farms announced another major expansion back in October.

Stephanie Bosch, with the county’s Economic Development Partnership, said that education training, workforce and quality of life are selling points to attract new industries to the area. She hopes to continue the momentum in 2020.

“We hope to have multiple new announcements for new industry that’s going to locate here in Florence, as well as our existing industry, and continue to be involved with our different community partners,” Bosch said.

In downtown Florence, two major businesses opened its doors: The Hyatt Place Hotel and Carolina Bank.

Mike Miller, the president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said they also continue to see small and hospitality businesses springing up in and around the area.

“From your restaurants to your hotels, they continue to grow,” Miller said. “We’ve had population growth, we’ve had job expansion and they’re good jobs, they’re solid paying jobs.”

The Hyatt Place opened its doors back in February. Assistant General Manager Jenine Shaffer said business has been steady since.

“We get a lot of hospital business so that helped pick us up. We picked up for the holiday season,” Shaffer said.

With continued success expected for not only the new year but for years to come, city leaders plan to increase their partnerships with universities and technical colleges to provide the education and training employers are looking for.

“It’s critical for the continuation of the growth that we’ve seen. We can’t grow if we don’t have people to fill the jobs,” Miller said.

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.

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Junior Leadership Holds December Session

Our Junior Leadership Class had such a great day providing community service to some great local organizations on Friday, December 20.

Thank you to Harvest Hope, Lighthouse Ministries and Habitat for Humanity Restore for allowing our students to volunteer. We would also like to thank Chick-Fil-A of West Florence for providing lunch.

There are so many nonprofits in Florence County and our 4-H challenges you to find a place and use “your hands of larger service” to positively impact our communities!

Florence Chamber Holds Holiday Reception

by Matthew Christian

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Holiday Reception was held Tuesday evening at the Chamber offices in downtown Florence. The reception featured remarks by incoming Chairman Ken Jackson and a welcome by Florence City Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Chamber Business After Hours Held at Elmcroft Senior Living

by Ardie Arvidson

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours on Thursday night was hosted by Elmcroft Senior Living at 3006 Hoffmeyer Road in Florence.

Elmcroft chose the event to showcase its Festival of Wreaths. The donated wreaths were displayed throughout Elmcroft for chamber guests to bid on. The proceeds benefited the American Cancer Society.

Forty wreaths were up for bid, Maggie Gardner of Elmcroft said.

Chinel Boateng, senior community development manager of the Southeast Region of the American Cancer Society, said this fundraiser will enable the organization to do more research. It will provide for more people to stay at Hope Lodges.

“The impact is very powerful,” Boateng said. “Every dollar counts.”

She handed out information about the American Cancer Society to the guests to give them additional insight into what the American Cancer Society does.

For more information about Elmcroft visit elmcroft.com.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Leadership Florence Participates in Ride a Mile

The Leadership Florence Class of 2020 took part in an annual program called Ride A Mile during their December session on Tuesday, December 10.

Now in it its fifth year, Ride A Mile is a simulated society and team-building exercise. The focal point of the program is for Leadership Florence cohorts to ride Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority, visit several local organizations, and experience different socio-economic circumstances.

The Ride A Mile program is made possible because of our community partners: PDRTA, Poynor Adult Education, Florence-Darlington Technical College, Lighthouse Ministries and Mercy Medicine Free Clinic.

Quarterly CEO Breakfast Held in December

The Greater Florence Chamber held its quarterly CEO Breakfast meeting Thursday, December 5 at HopeHealth on N Irby Street in Florence. The information session held each quarter is sponsored by Willcox, Buyck & Williams.

Approximately 30 local business, manufacturing and community leaders share in round-table discussions about their current business experiences. The informational session always provides inside information on business challenges, changes and opportunities in the Pee Dee area.

If you want to know more about the invitation only breakfast please contact Michael Miller at the Chamber office by calling (843) 665-0515 or contact Robert Moore with Willcox, Buyck & Williams at rmoore@willcoxlaw.com.

Fellows in Education Visit Carver

The 2019-2020 Fellows in Education class met this week for a visit to Carver Elementary School. The school has a tradition of excellence and strives to make all students successful learners. Mrs. Josie Little, Principle of Carver Elementary, explained their mission is to provide students with engaging, challenging, and authentic real-world experiences.

The school serves students in kindergarten through grade four with a total enrollment of approximately 550 students. Their highly qualified staff and administration works very closely with a curriculum/technology coordinator and literacy coach to meet all learners where they are and move them to the next level. The school is an AdvancED STEM certified school. One of the few schools that provides the Project Lead the Way Curriculum integrated into all subjects.

The Fellows program is designed to give 30 local community leaders a unique, behind-the-scenes look into several Florence One Schools over the course of eight months. The class will hear about seismic shifts in student needs and the additional state and federal requirements now placed on schools, teachers and administrators. They will also witness the strong efforts by administrators and teachers to educate our future citizens and leaders. The program is made possible by a partnership between Florence One Schools, The School Foundation and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

Duke Energy’s Wings and Chili Team Helps Pee Dee Land Trust

by Matthew Christian

One team’s victories in the annual Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Kickin’ Chicken wing and chili contest are paying off for the Pee Dee Land Trust.

A team from Duke Energy Progress is donating its winnings to the land trust. Team members are Cordy Williamson, Andrew Baylor, Jay Bishop and Kayla Holland-Woods.

They have entered both contests for three years.

“We entered the year that they started the chili/wing cook-off, and we’ve placed somewhere every year,” Williamson said.

The team won first place for its wings in 2019, first place for its chili in 2017 and second place for its chili in 2018.

Both contests are broken into two parts: a winner selected by judges and a winner selected by fan vote.

The judges for 2019 were Adam Crosson of REMAX Professionals, Commander Anson Shells of the Florence Police Department, Aaron Robinson of Honda, Jennifer Robinson of Empowered to Heal, Greg Padilla of Pepsi, Kevin Goodwin of Woodforest Bank, Eric Robinson of Vocational Rehabilitation, Diana Murphy of Diversity Works Magazine, Nicole Echols of Harvest Hope Food Bank, Wayne Mulling of Community Broadcasters and Chief Allen Heidler of the Florence Police Department.

The Duke team won judges’ awards.

The team is reluctant to reveal its wing and chili secrets.

Bishop said Williamson has a secret wing seasoning that he will not reveal even to his teammates.

“Even we don’t know,” Bishop said.

Bishop and his father are responsible for the chili recipe. However, he said, they have modified the recipe to account for the tastes of the Pee Dee region.

He added that the recipe is a Georgia recipe and is milder in taste, but the modified version adds more unspecified spices.

“We put our heart and soul in whatever we do,” Williamson said.

Each prize won carries a monetary prize, which the team then donates to Pee Dee Land Trust.

Lyles Cooper Lyles, executive director of the land trust, said the donation was a general donation and would be used to support the operations of the organization.

She said the donation was special, because it represented both corporate donation in the connection with Duke and a personal donation in the sense that the team chose to donate to the land trust.

Bishop said the Pee Dee Land Trust is a natural fit for the the team.

To read the full article of SC Now, click here.

Kickin’ Chicken Peoples Choice Winners Receive Plaques

by Matthew Christian

The winners of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Kickin’ Chicken” Wing & Chili festival were honored Wednesday afternoon at the chamber offices.

Chamber staff members presented plaques to winners David Gowdy of Vivid Network Solutions and Jay Phillips of Clayton Homes.

Vivid Network Solutions won the award for best chili. Clayton Homes won the award for best wings.

The festival was held on Oct. 18 in the 100 block of South Dargan Street in downtown Florence.

2019 was the sixth year that the Florence chamber has held the cook-off festival, which has doubled in attendance over the years to nearly 3,000 people enjoying the local cooking, favorite beverages and music on the streets of downtown Florence.

Everyone attending had the opportunity to be a judge by voting online for the People’s Choice award sponsored by SCNow.com.

This year’s event was made possible by Raines Hospitality and Carolina Bank, along with support from Willcox, Buyck & Williams, Victors Restaurant and South Carolina Federal Credit Union.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

The King’s Academy Hosts Business Over Breakfast

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce held a Business Over Breakfast networking event at The King’s Academy Tuesday, November 19.

We were joined by nearly 40 community leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs. A big thank you goes to TKA for hosting and all who attended.