HopeHealth Welcomes New Provider

HopeHealth welcomes Casey Wilkes, LPC, a mental health counselor serving patients at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza.

Wilkes graduated from Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree, minoring in sociology, and a Master of Science in Clinical/Counseling Psychology degree.

From Lake City, she has worked with children, adolescents, and adults. Her clinical expertise includes the use of cognitive behavioral therapies to assist with trauma, problematic behaviors, addiction, grief, mood disorders, and anxiety.

AESC Seeks Third Round Of State Funding

AESC is seeking a third round of state funding to expand its already historic investment in Florence County.

The Japanese manufacturer is building a $1.6 billion electric vehicle battery cell production plant that will employ more than 1,600 people.

The factory was referred to as Project Agave in a March 20 meeting of the state’s Joint Bond Review Committee, which approved the additional funds, and a March 21 meeting of Florence County Council, which gave first reading to an ordinance to facilitate the funding.

Most of the $110 million would go to creating a “second facility for the production of EV batteries,” according to documents attached to the Joint Bond Review Committee’s agenda, while infrastructure costs and training center improvements would also be funded.

The initial investment of $810 million in 2022 would have created 1,170 jobs. The Dec. 12 announcement upped that total to 1,620.

The factory is being built across the street from Wilson High School and will create cells that serve as the individual power storage units inside an electric vehicle battery. A single electric vehicle could require thousands of cells.

These cells will be used to make electric vehicles at the 8-million-square-foot BMW plant in Spartanburg, which employs 11,000 people.

To read the full story, click here.

SC House Passes Expansion Of School Voucher Program

After hours of debate and rejection of amendments, the House voted 69 – 32 Wednesday to give second reading to a bill revising the new, and yet to be fully implemented, publicly-funded voucher program(H.5164).

Beginning with the 2026-2027 school year, the bill would allow all students, no matter their family income or whether they are already enrolled in a public or private school or homeschooled, to qualify for an online publicly funded scholarship through the Education Scholarship Trust Fund (ESTF) program and create what is commonly referred to as a universal voucher program.

To read the full story, click here.

Terrence F. Carraway Foundation Presents Taste Of Blue

The Terrence F. Carraway Foundation will be holding a Taste of Blue event on Friday June 7th from 5:30pm – 8:00 pm at the Florence City Farmer’s Market.  Tickets are $20 each and kids 5 and under are free.

All proceeds from the Taste of Blue will go directly to the TFC Foundation’s main project – The South Carolina Fallen Officers’ Memorial in honor of the late Sgt. Terrence F. Carraway, located at 611 S. Main Street, Darlington, SC.

For more information, click here.

Florence Flats Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Chanse Beinke along with his staff, Chamber Ambassadors, local law enforcement and city dignitaries cut their ribbon joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

Florence flats is an apartment community located in west Florence at 307 Harrell Street. Their newly renovated units all feature two bedrooms and one bathroom. They began renovations in June of 2023 and are about one month from completion.

Florence Flats can serve a wide tenant base from affordable housing to market rate tenants. They have been partnered with ECHO on four of their units and are hoping to partner with the Florence Housing authority soon. Upon completion of the Florence Flats, they will have invested 4.5 million dollars into this project to renovate forty-eight (48) units.

To contact Florence Flats, call 843-702-0069 or stop at their office 307 Harrell Street Florence South Carolina 29501. Their Office Hours are Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. They can also be reached at via their website: www.florenceflats.com

Northwestern Mutual Featured On ChamberLink Radio

Andrew Marsh from Northwestern Mutual, was the Chamber’s radio guest on ChamberLink Radio this past weekend, talking about talking about Northwestern Mutual serving clients through all kinds of economic ups and downs, including recessions and even the recent pandemic. You can catch the conversation each Sunday from 12:00 – 12:30 pm on LIVE 95.3FM in Florence, SC.

This radio program is brought to you by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

9th Annual Flo-Town 5K Set For April 27th

The City of Florence Employee Wellness Program and Florence Track Club have partnered to bring you the 9th Annual Flo-Town 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, April 27th. The certified course will begin at the City’s Waste Water Management Facility quickly accessing the Florence Trail System’s Freedom Florence Connections. These trails, located in East Florence, make up approximately 8 miles of the City’s Trail system. The course is comprised of natural beauty and history adjacent to the tranquil Jeffries Creek and the Florence Stockade. The Stockade and neighboring National Cemetery developed during the Civil War, and veterans from all wars since that time have been, and are still being, interred here.

Click here for more information.

SC Ports To Expand Capacity At North Charleston Terminal

Last  week, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SC Ports) announced the purchase of the former WestRock paper mill site adjacent to the North Charleston Terminal, which will, over time, allow SC Ports to significantly expand capacity at the North Charleston Terminal. The purchase of the roughly 280-acre waterfront property will grow the terminal’s capacity to “…handle 5 million containers in the future and create 5,000 feet of linear berth space for container ships and around 400 acres of terminal space for cargo.”

In a statement, SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said, “South Carolina’s economy is prospering, and we must continue to invest in our world-class port system to support the companies investing in our state. This is an incredible opportunity to enhance our high-performing North Charleston Terminal with renewed capacity to handle future growth.”

The state is expected to appropriate general funds to help aid in the purchase of the property. The House included $55 million for the purchase of the property in their version of the budget (H.5100) that passed last week.

Celebration Of Small Business Luncheon & Expo Scheduled For April 24th

To honor National Small Business Week, The Greater Florence Chamber will host our inaugural Celebration of Small Business Luncheon on Wednesday, April 24th at the Florence Center. The festivities will begin at 11:00 am with a vendor expo, and lunch will be served starting at 12:00 noon. The event will celebrate the contributions of small business to our community and feature Julie Kunkle, Deputy Director of Business Services with The SC Department of Commerce as our speaker.

There are more than 33 million small businesses in the United States with over 61 million employees, making up nearly 50% of the US workforce.

Tickets are $35 for Chamber members and $40 for non-members. Vendor exhibit tables are $50 for members, $75 for non-members. Reserved tables are also available.

To register online, click here.

FMU Kelley Center To Host Entrepreneur & Small Business Networking Event

After the success of their first event, the FMU Kelley Center is excited to host another evening of networking and collaboration at their second Entrepreneur & Small Business Networking Event! This free, in-person event will take place on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at 5:30 to 7:00pm in the University Place Building (142 N Dargan St) in Downtown Florence.

Whether you’re a seasoned small business owner or just starting out, this event is the perfect opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs, exchange ideas, and build valuable relationships in a casual and friendly environment.

Attendees will also be able to learn about the services and programs offered by local organizations such as the FMU Kelley Center, SCORE, the SBDC, and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce as well as tour the available office spaces offered through the Kelley Center’s Incubation program.

Space is limited and this event did sell out previously, so register now and get ready for this fantastic opportunity to make meaningful business and community connections!