SiMT Earns Top Manufacturing Honor

FDTC Release

Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SiMT) has received the inaugural Xometry Excellence in Manufacturing award.

Xometry, the largest online marketplace for custom manufacturing, announced today the winners of the award. The honorees represent the top tier of Xometry’s nationwide network of over 2,500 manufacturing partners based on their performance in delivering high-quality parts on time throughout 2018.

“We’re thrilled to recognize our top performing partners,” said Randy Altschuler, CEO, and co-founder of Xometry. “Our partners share our commitment to delivering high-quality work to our diverse customer base of engineers and designers across the country. We look forward to recognizing more partners in the future as our network continues to grow.”

Florence-Darlington Technical College Interim President, Edward Bethea, said “We are elated to receive this honor and are looking forward to working hard to repeat this for years to come.”

Read the full article on SC Now here.

Fellows Group Hears About Challenges at Florence Elementary School

by Lauren Owens

The Fellows in Education gathered Tuesday at Theodore Lester Elementary School during their February meeting.

Fellows in Education is a program sponsored by The School Foundation, Florence One Schools and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

During the presentation, Theodore Lester Elementary School Principal Janette Williams informed the fellows about the school’s demographics, such as having one-third of the students in special education.

She said this can be a challenge for the school in recruiting new teachers.

“It’s more difficult to get teachers to come to schools like Lester,” Williams said. “They see the population and don’t want to come here. They want to go to schools that don’t present as many challenges.”

Williams also said a lack of parent involvement is a challenge for the school.

“The more they look at Milo, we’ve found that they’ve been communicating more with people,” Williams said. “They make eye contact more.”

Fellows also learned about student clubs at Theodore Lester Elementary School, such as Track, the Young Gentleman’s Club and Student Council.

Yulaundra Heyward, who is retired from Francis Marion University, said after touring the school that she was impressed with the teachers at Lester Elementary but was concerned with the number of children in each classroom with autism or a disability.

Click here to read the article on SC Now.

Florence Chamber Member of the Month: Ellen Cooke

Freeman’s Bakery has been serving delicious sweet treats since 1964. As they enter their 56th year in business, Owner Ellen Cooke is especially thankful for her employees and her customers. “I love my job!” she exclaims. Freeman’s team of experienced bakers are constantly working to bring new innovative ideas for the pleasure of their customers. They continue to serve their traditional items, including several options of cakes, cupcakes and cookies. They’ve also adopted the slogan “Just Ask!” Freeman’s is eager to make a special family recipe or experiment with a new recipe for their customers.

Over the years, Freeman’s has done more than just increase their menu of baked goods. In 2017, they expanded their space to offer more options in the gift shop including balloons, plates, and napkins, and they continue to have the largest candle selection in Florence County. “We really are your one-stop-shop for all of your celebrations,” Ellen says. Freeman’s will continue to offer quality products made from scratch (with no chemical additives) and quality service in a friendly atmosphere. “We are here for our customers to be everything that you need us to be. Thank you for your patronage for the last 55 years!” Freeman’s is always cooking up something new!

For more information on this story, check the February issue of VIP Magazine.

Pee Dee Regionald Transportation Authority Names Interim Executive Director

Staff Reports

Don Strickland will become interim executive director of the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority on March 1 when Chuck MacNeil retires.

Strickland’s appointment was announced Friday by the authority’s chairman, Tyron Jones. The authority’s board of directors met Thursday and voted on the appointment.

MacNeil has served as PDRTA executive director since October 2011.

“Among his many accomplishments, most notably saving our agency from the brink of collapse in 2013, Chuck also identified the necessary qualities of a future leader in Don Strickland and became a mentor to him over these past few years. I have witnessed Don’s professional growth and development under Chuck’s guidance and the two have worked tirelessly and in sync to advance PDRTA to a stronger agency with a brighter future,” Jones said.

George Jebaily, a Florence City Council member, serves on the PDRTA board and headed the search committee.

“It made too much sense to try this approach when Don has been a significant contributor here all along,” Jebaily said. “The board has become very familiar with his capabilities, expertise with federal and state transportation offices, and knowledge that comes with his 10-plus years of working at PDRTA. We do not want to see Chuck go but, given the circumstances the board is most comfortable to continue on with Don in charge.”

The PDRTA board also intends to retain MacNeil’s services to assist Strickland with the transition where needed in the months ahead.

Read the article on SC Now here.

Pee Dee Motorists: Prepare for Road Construction

by Matthew Robertson

Approximately one year after public meetings were first conducted on the project, work is set to begin on improvements to Bentree Lane from West Palmetto Street to David McLeod Boulevard – one of several Florence County road projects set to start in the near future.

“This will consist of nighttime work with lane closures on Bentree Lane,” Lauren Roundtree wrote in a brief South Carolina Department of Transportation release on the project. “Roadwork will be ongoing over the next couple of months.”

Bentree Lane – which combines with Dozier Boulevard and Holly Circle to link Hoffmeyer Road, David McLeod Boulevard, West Palmetto Street and Second Loop Road – is set for additional turn lanes and improvements to its intersections at either end.

This project is funded through the Florence County Transportation Committee and the city of Florence, said Robert Kudelka, SCDOT spokesman, through an email sent out on the project.

The project encompasses the road’s intersections with David McLeod Boulevard and West Palmetto Streets and includes improvements to Dozier Boulevard from the intersection to Trade Court.

The purpose of the project is to improve operational efficiency for pedestrian and vehicle traffic, according to a post on the SCDOT website about the project. Additionally, the project will increase safety at each intersection with Bentree Lane.

In 2016, 27,000 vehicles per day traveled through the area on David McLeod Boulevard while 19,400 a day passed on West Palmetto Street, according to SCDOT traffic counts. No figure was available for Bentree Lane. Those numbers have held close to that since 2009.

Elsewhere in Florence County, large paving and surface rehabilitation projects are about to begin.

The longest projects will bisect Florence County both east to west and north to south.

U.S. 76 – Palmetto Street through Florence – is set for construction from the Marion County line to just past the Interstate 95 interchange. U.S. 52 is set for construction from the Darlington County line to Cades in Williamsburg County, according to a SCDOT project website.

Some other Pee Dee roads set for either paving or surface rehabilitation:

  • Interstate 95 is set to be paved from Hoffmeyer Road to the county line.
  • Interstate 95 from the North Carolina line to northern Florence County.
  • Interstate 20 through most of Darlington and Lee Counties.
  • U.S. 301/S.C. 327/Williston Road/Freedom Boulevard is set to be paved from Old Marion Highway to the bridge over Jeffries Creek.
  • Third Loop Road will be paved from South Irby Street to Bellevue Drive.
  • Church Street from National Cemetery Road to Pamplico Highway.
  • Francis Marion Road from Francis Marion University to National Cemetery Road.
  • Pineland Avenue from Cherokee Road to South Cashua Drive.
  • West Madison Avenue.
  • West Old No. 4 Highway from U.S. 52 to McAllister Mill Road.
  • Salem Road/West Old No. 4 Highway to Bethel Road.
  • Old Creek Road from West Old No. 4 Highway to U.S. 301.
  • U.S. 378 from North Church Street west to the Clarendon County line.
  • U.S. 378 from Old River Road to the Great Pee Dee River.
  • S.C. 41/51 will be paved from the railroad crossing to S.C. 341.
  • Dennis Road from West Main Street to Cooktown Road.
  • Hyman Road from S.C. 51 to Friendfield Road.
  • U.S. 15 from U.S. 52 to North Marquis Highway.
  • North Center Road from Old Camden Road to Indian Branch Road.

Other notable projects on the website:

  • Improvements for the U.S. 52/Alligator Road/Howe Springs Road intersection.
  • Improvements to the Francis Marion Road/Claussen Road/Old River Road intersection.
  • Improvements to the Pisgah Road/North Ebenezer Road/Sumter Street intersection.
  • Improvements to the U.S. 52/Wire Road intersection.
  • Improvements to the U.S. 301/North Bethel Road intersection.
  • Improvements to the U.S. 52/U.S. 401/Church Street intersection in Society Hill.
  • Widen Alligator Road from two to three lanes from U.S. 76 to Knollwood Road and three to five lanes from Knollwood Road to Alligator Branch Bridge.
  • Widen U.S. 76 to five lanes from Honda Way to I-95/Meadors Road.
  • Work on scour protection for the Interstate 95 bridge over the Great Pee Dee River.
  • Edisto Drive bridge replacement over Jeffries Creek.
  • Ebenezer Road bridge replacement over High Hill Creek.
  • U.S. 76 bridge replacement over the Lynches River at the Lee County line.
  • A series of bridges along U.S. 401 north of Interstate 20 are set to be replaced.

To read the article on SC Now, click here.

Tarr Group Holds Ribbon Cutting at Florence Chamber

 

by Ardie Arvidson

Kevin Pulis of the Tarr Group LLC joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to celebrate the group’s new chamber membership. A ribbon cutting was held at the chamber.

Pulis, a civil engineer who grew up in Florence and recently moved back, said he joined the chamber because he wants to be a part of the community now that he is back.

Pulis said he is eager to get back into the community and work with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

“I want to help it (Florence) grow and prosper,” he said.

He said Florence is becoming a very impressive place, especially the downtown.

Pulis is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in civil engineering and has 14 years of experience in civil engineering. He recently joined the Tarr Group.

The Tarr Group is a national civil engineering consulting firm with offices in Portland, Oregon; Denver; Indianapolis; and Florence.

Pulis said it is a consulting firm with experience in commercial, industrial and residential services. He said the group does site work from start to finish.

To contact Pulis, call 843-633-3579.

Read the full article on SC Now here.

Florence Chamber To Host Apprenticeship Meeting For The Pee Dee

The Chamber and the South Carolina Department of Commerce would like to invite area businesses to participate in a Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator Meeting on Thursday, March 14. The gathering will be held at the Greater Florence Chamber Offices on 100 West Evans Street, Downtown Florence. Registration starts at 7:30am and the program starts at 8:00am. The agenda includes a review of Apprenticeship Carolina and business/industry leader discussions on their active role in youth apprenticeship programs. A continental breakfast will be provided. Please RSVP as soon as possible as seating is limited. Register here online now.

Florence Chamber and BMW Partner to Host Forum

Staff Reports

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce in partnership with BMW is hosting a one-hour “Doing Business with BMW” forum at 10 a.m. on Feb. 7 in the chamber office at 100 West Evans St.

Representatives from BMW will discuss upcoming opportunities for small-, veteran-, woman- and minority-owned businesses, as well as details on attending the BMW supplier diversity conference in Greenville on April 4.

“The Florence Chamber sends a group of local, small minority businesses to the BMW Conference every year, which started while building a rapport with BMW several years ago” said Les Echols, the chamber’s director of community and minority enterprise.

The Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council (CVMSDC) will also be on hand to discuss how it supports and promotes minority-business development.

The forum and partnerships are a part the PRISM program, a chamber initiative that was created to promote the inclusion of small and minority businesses.

Attendance for the “Doing Business with BMW” is free, but advance registration is required since seating is limited. Those interested in attending should RSVP at this link.

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

Allstate-Hardee Insurance Agency Holds Ribbon Cutting After Joining Florence Chamber

by Matthew Robertson

FLORENCE, S.C. — The Hardee Agency had a ribbon cutting Thursday to mark both its joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and its change in ownership as of Jan. 1.

Formerly Ben Stevens Allstate, the agency is now owned by Brandon Hardee and has remained with Allstate.

Hardee bought the agency from his father-in-law on Jan. 1 when he retired.

“My family’s been in insurance. My dad’s been in insurance for 30-plus years,” said Hardee, who has been in insurance since 2012.

The Hardee Agency is a full-service office that offers personalized insurance, home, auto, life, counsels on retirement needs and offers some commercial coverage products, Hardee said.
“This business has been in this location for 25 years,” Hardee said. “I’m excited to continue that legacy he started so many years ago.”

The Hardee Agency is at 1600 Second Loop Road in Florence. It can be reached at 843-665-4496. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Read the full article on SC Now here.