Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce hosts Annual Spring Golf Classic

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Spring Golf Classic Thursday, June 4th at Traces Golf Club. There were 104 players on 26 teams participating, while enjoying eight great hospitality sponsored holes throughout the course. Each offered food, gifts and beverages. A big thank you to Raldex Hospitality as the overall sponsor and to The Palmetto Mortgage Group for their support. Again, thank you to all the players and local companies that participated. Please feel free to share your photos and tag yourself.

The 1st place winners were:
Pee Dee Food Service
Jack Weatherford
John Noble
Greg Dolce
Chris Count (not pictured)
The 2nd Place winners were:
First Reliance Bank
Paul Saunders
Jon Weiss, Jr.
Tom Ewart (not pictured)
Brice Elvington (not pictured)

Everest Payment Solutions

Everest Payment Solutions celebrated rejoining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Monday, June 8th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Chamber office. Chamber ambassadors joined in the celebration.

Everest Payment Solutions is a credit card processing company. Nicole Griggs is a Regional Manager and Tim Griggs is a Support Specialist. They provide processing solutions for all types of businesses providing mobile, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar solutions.

“I’ve been in this industry for 16 years and take pride in serving the needs of our customers year after year, and we have some great partnerships, including First Reliance Bank for 15 of those years,” Nicole Griggs said.

To read the full story, click here.

TAB – Florence/Myrtle Beach Joins Chamber

Lee Freeman, Owner of TAB Florence-Myrtle Beach, celebrated joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, June 11th with a ribbon cutting outdoors at the Chamber office. Chamber ambassadors took part in the ceremony.

TAB stands for The Alternative Board. Freeman said TAB helps “forward-thinking business owners grow their business, increase profitability and improve their lives by leveraging local business advisory boards, private business coaching and proprietary strategic services.

TAB is celebrating its 30th year in business.

To read the full story, click here.

Gardner Family Chiropractic Joins Chamber

Gardner Family Chiropractic opened Monday, June 15th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. Chamber ambassadors joined in the celebration of Florence’s newest business and it joining the chamber.

Dr. Chris Gardner’s practice is located at 205 N. Irby Suite B. in Florence. He said his practice is child centered, family focused and community rooted.

Gardner is a native of Bishopville. He is a 2016 graduate of Coker College with a degree in physical education/exercise science and a graduate of the Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg. He is a candidate for pediatric certification from the Academy of Pediatric Chiropractic Council. He is also a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.

To read the full story, click here.

Florence Downtown Development Designated As Main Street America Affiliate

Congratulation to Downtown Florence. During the past decade, Downtown Florence has seen tremendous growth with more than $250 million in public and private investment. The momentum continues in 2020 with commitment to bringing new businesses and public and private development projects to downtown Florence. Florence Downtown Development Corp. will seek National Main Street Accreditation for its redevelopment program at the end of 2020.

To read the full story, click here.

Mike Reichenbach Takes Over As Chairman of Chamber July 1

Mike Reichenbach will take over as chairman of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.  Reichenbach has been a member of the chamber board in the past, but this will be his first time serving as chairman.  “I’m honored and excited to begin my term as board chairman of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on July 1,” Reichenbach said.

To read the full story click here.

RIA Approves Grants for Enhancing Water, Sewer and Stormwater Infrastructure

The S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved grant assistance for 34 projects, totaling more than $14.5 million, to strengthen water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. This brings the total funds awarded this fiscal year to $25.7 million.


Access to adequate water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure is key to supporting South Carolina’s quality of life, as well as opening doors for economic development. Yet, repairs to critical infrastructure can be expensive, and local funds are often limited. Leveraging RIA grants, local revenues and other funds to address the improvements is critical in helping to close the gap between needs and resources.


“The need to partner, collaborate and work together is critical to the long-term sustainability of a community. By targeting limited, public resources where they will have the greatest, long-term impact and addressing the most pressing needs to protect public health and the environment, these grants improve and strengthen the communities they serve,” said Executive Director Bonnie Ammons.


A majority of the projects funded by the grants include improving aging sewer collection and treatment facilities; upgrading water supply, storage and distribution systems; and mitigating neighborhood flooding by improving drainage structures. The remaining grant awards increase infrastructure capacity to support existing business and new economic opportunities. All of the projects will have a significant impact on the 44,000 residents and businesses they serve.


RIA grants are awarded twice a year through a competitive process that considers the need for improved public health, environmental protection, community sustainability and economic development. Applications are selected by the RIA board based on criteria, including severity of the problem, expected impact and project feasibility. Recipients share in the cost of projects by paying for non-construction activities and, often times, providing additional funds for construction.


A list of grant recipients for the second round of competitive grants for fiscal year 2020 is below. To learn more about RIA or how to apply for grant assistance, visit

Aiken, City of Economic Sewer Infrastructure $500,000
Aiken County / New Holland Rural Community Water System Improvements $60,000
Bamberg Board of Public Works Economic Sewer Infrastructure $450,000
Berkeley County Sewer System Improvements $350,000
Bishopville, City of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Bishopville, City of Economic Water Infrastructure $500,000
Blacksburg, Town of Water System Improvements $500,000
Carlisle, Town of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Cheraw, Town of Economic Sewer Infrastructure $500,000
Cherokee County / Draytonville Water Works Water System Improvements $407,500
Clinton, City of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Darlington, City of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Darlington County Water and Sewer Authority Water System Improvements $494,000
Dorchester County Water Authority Water Line Improvements $360,000
Elko, Town of Water System Improvements $488,207
Fountain Inn, City of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority Drainage and Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Greenville, City of Sewer System Improvements $360,000
Greer Commission of Public Works Economic Sewer Infrastructure $500,000
Horry County Drainage System Upgrade $229,702
Horry County Economic Water and Sewer Infrastructure $300,000
Lamar, Town of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Lancaster, City of Water Line Improvements $363,000
Liberty, City of Sewer System Improvements $187,200
Liberty-Chesnee-Fingerville Water District Water Line Improvements $500,000
Lockhart, Town of Water Line Improvements $500,000
Manning, City of Water System Improvements $321,420
McCormick County Water System Improvements $260,000
Powdersville Water District Economic Water Infrastructure $500,000
Surfside Beach, Town of Drainage System Upgrade $500,000
Union, City of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Walhalla, City of Sewer System Improvements $500,000
Walterboro, City of Sewer System Improvements $483,450
Winnsboro, Town of Water Line Improvements $409,640

McLeod Health and SC DHEC Offering FREE COVID-19 Testing Clinic For Business and Industry Employees

McLeod Health, in partnership with South Carolina DHEC, will offer a FREE COVID-19 Testing Clinic for business and industry employees on Thursday, May 21. The testing clinic is open to individuals with or without symptoms of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Testing Clinic will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at McLeod Occupational Health Commerce Park located at 3257 General William West Drive, Florence, SC 29506. This free drive-thru clinic is open to any business and industry employees in the area. Individuals interested in being tested should remain in their car. For safety reasons, this is a drive-thru and not walk-in site. If a business or industry is interested in scheduling a private testing clinic at their location, please contact Tara Lee with McLeod Occupational Health at (843) 777-5682.

Governor Allows Salons, Gyms, Public Pools Across SC to Reopen May 18

by WMBF News Staff

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is allowing close contact businesses, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms and public pools to reopen.

This comes after he ordered them and other non-essential businesses to close in March to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The businesses will be allowed to reopen on Monday, May 18 at 12:01 a.m.

Close contact businesses include:

  • Barbershops
  • Hair salons
  • Waxing salons
  • Threading salons
  • Nail salons and spas
  • Body-art facilities and tattoo services
  • Tanning salons
  • Massage-therapy establishments
  • Massage services

Commercial gyms include exercise facilities such as yoga studios, barre classes and others.

“With our increased capacity for testing the people of our state, it is time to responsibly and gradually get these small businesses back up and running,” said McMaster. “We have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the world by reinvigorating our economy while staying safe, but we can only do that if South Carolinians continue to follow the advice and recommendations of our public health experts.”

On March 31, McMaster announced the closure of many non-essential businesses across S.C. That list was expanded on April 3 after the governor cited non-compliance with social distancing.

Kevin Armstrong, the owner of Kevin’s Barber Shop, said it’s been a tough waiting game for certain restrictions to be lifted and is ready to make whatever changes he needs to get customers back in the door.

“I’m just glad that finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. For us to be in a resort area and see all the people here right now and I’m still not able to open up our doors, it’s been real frustrating. Now on Monday, hopefully the parking lot will be full and it’ll be a good day,” Armstrong said.

The “Response” component of accelerateSC, which is the group that has been tasked to safely reopen the state, has developed specific guidelines for certain businesses to help make sure customers and employees are safe.

Guidelines for businesses to safely reopen:

These guidelines include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Guidance on social distancing within businesses, including recommended capacity requirements
  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Additional guidance on health checks for employees
  • Additional guidance on training for employees

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.

To read the full article on WMBF, click here.

Osterman, Hemingway Tapped to be Next Florence City Managers

by Matthew Christian

Florence City Manager Drew Griffin will have two successors.

The Florence City Council voted Tuesday morning to execute contracts with Fire Chief Randy Osterman and Utilities Director Michael Hemingway to replace Griffin as the city manager when he retires later this year.

Osterman is expected to be promoted to city manager when Griffin retires but may only serve for a couple of years as he is also nearing retirement.

Osterman has served as the city’s fire chief for 12 years.

Hemingway will be designated as the successor to Osterman.

Hemingway has directed the city’s utilities for 8½ years.

This plan will enable Hemingway to serve in his current capacity during a vital time. Florence is planning a second waste-water treatment plant on the west side of town. This will be a $50 million to $75 million commitment. Also, Hemingway needs time to train his replacement as utilities director.

Wukela said that the plan was the best course and best hope for maintaining the city’s culture into the future.

A source told the Morning News last week that the city had identified four internal finalists for the position of city manager with Osterman and Hemingway being selected for the position.

The choice of hiring a new city manager has been made over several months. A source told the Morning News that early talks involved searching outside the city or internally for the best candidates. For stability and continuity, the internal approach was favored.

Griffin said he was approached approximately two or 2½ years ago to begin a transition by identifying high-performing employees of the city and putting them into positions where they can grow and be ready to assume additional responsibilities and leadership roles when vacancies occur.

Griffin became the city manager in 2011 after serving 16 years as the director of public works and utilities.

Mayor Stephen Wukela called hiring Griffin “the most prudent decision” that he’s ever been apart of.

The meeting was broadcast via the city’s YouTube channel.

Wukela reported that Griffin was hiding in the corner so he didn’t hear the complimentary words of the city’s mayor.

“Unfortunately, he’s going to have to listen to it because I have the microphone,” Wukela said. “The relationship between a mayor and a city manager is a critically important one and the relationship between the council and the city manager is critically important.”

Wukela added that he didn’t think there could be a better relationship between a mayor, council and city manager than the one between him, the council, and Griffin.

He also said he didn’t think there could be a better city manager than Griffin.

“We have been incredibly lucky to have Drew lead the city as he has for these many years,” Wukela continued.

He also called Griffin a dear friend and a brother.

Wukela added that Griffin had brought out the better angels of his nature and of the council.

Griffin will become the latest person to join a list of leaders leaving their positions in the city. That list includes Wukela and Councilwoman Octavia Williams-Blake who elected not to run to retain their positions on the city council.

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