SC Disaster Recovery Team Holds Meetings for Flood Victims in the Pee Dee

(image courtesy: SCEMD)
Members of the SC Disaster Recovery team held a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Florence County for homeowners affected by last October’s catastrophic floods.
$96 million has been set aside for South Carolinians to recover and SC Disaster Recovery is making sure that money gets into the hands of those who need it.
Additional meetings will take place in the Pee Dee area for those needing more information on the efforts and to discover if they qualify for the funds.
The remaining three meetings will be held:
–Thursday, July 7: Alex Chatman Complex Auditorium, 147 West Main St., Kingstree
–Monday, July 11: Patriot Hall, 135 Haynsworth St, Sumter
–Tuesday, July 12: Howard Recreational Center, 1610 Hawkins St. Georgetown
You can read more about the recent meeting by clicking on the story below from WBTW News13:

Register Now for the YP/Chamber Lunch & Learn: Fair Labor Standards Act

Don’t forget to join us for an exciting and informative upcoming Lunch & Learn- Preparing for the New Fair Labor Standards Act.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Florence County Library (Stukes Meeting Room)

The Young Professionals of Florence, Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and Willcox, Buyck and Williams, P.A. will host a Lunch & Learn program to explain the new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA,) which will take effect on December 1, 2016. If you want to know how this ruling will affect your business or organization, you need to register.

Did you know the new final rule will:

– Increase by slightly more than double, the minimum salary level for exempt “white collar” employees from $455/week ($23,660/year) to $913/week ($47,476/year)

– Automatically update every three years: 1) the minimum salary level to the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest income region of the country; and (2) the HCE threshold to the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally.
Raise the highly compensated employee (“HCE”) threshold from $100,000 to $134,004.

No exception to the rules is made for small businesses. The final rule does not make any changes to the duties tests for executive, administrative & professional employees.
The final rule allows for up to 10 percent of the minimum salary level for non-HCE employees to be met by non-discretionary bonuses, incentives, or commissions, if these payments are made on at least a quarterly basis.

Young Professionals/Chamber Members ($15)
Non-Members ($20)
Non-Profit Organizations ($15)

For more information visit:

Facebook Event Page

Hotel Florence Wins National Recognition in its Field

(image courtesy: Raines Hospitality)

Congratulations Chamber member Hotel Florence on another big win- its recent recognition as the 2016 Hotel of the Year!

See below for the full details of the recognition, courtesy of a press release from Raines Hospitality:

Choice Hotels International, Inc., one of the world’s leading hotel companies, named Hotel Florence, a member of the upscale Ascend Hotel Collection, the winner of the Ascend Hotel Collection brand’s 2016 Hotel of the Year Award.

“With it’s distinctive charm, Hotel Florence truly captures the essence of the Ascend Hotel Collection. The property exemplifies the attributes of the Ascend Hotel Collection not only through its unique urban elegance, but service excellence as well,” said Janis Cannon, Senior Vice President of upscale brands for Choice Hotels. “Since joining the membership collection in 2013, this property has helped to strengthen the appeal of the Ascend Hotel Collection while serving as an anchor for the revitalization of historic downtown Florence. We are proud to support Hotel Florence as it continues to flourish and are so pleased to recognize them with this prestigious Hotel of the Year award.”

Choice Hotels International’s Hotel of the Year Award winners are selected by the Choice Hotels Owners Council and are presented to properties that demonstrate lodging excellence and offer guest experiences that set the standard for the industry.

Nominees are all ranked at the top of hotels within their brand. Raines Hospitality receiving the 2016 Hotel of the Year Award presented by Steve Joyce, Pat Pacious, and Janis Cannon In addition, Raines Hospitality also received the 2016 Developer of the Year award from Choice Hotels International in the Ascend Collection tier of brands category at the company’s 62nd annual convention.

President of Raines Hospitality, Grey Raines, attended the awards gala and accepted the award on behalf of the company. The Developer of the Year recognizes the best developers in the Choice Hotels system. One winner is named for each tier of core brands, extended stay and Cambria Suites. “We are so honored to receive these awards,” said Matthew Grey Raines, president of Raines Hospitality. “Our hardworking team is committed to serving guests and providing them with a memorable experience. The Ascend Hotel Collection has been essential to our success by giving us a worldwide platform with powerful resources. These include access to more than 26 million loyalty members through the Choice Privileges program and the latest advancements in lodging technology, all while allowing us to stay true to who we are – innkeepers who love to share southern warmth and hospitality.”


10 Steps to Start Your Own Small Business

Feeling inspired to start your own small business but have absolutely no idea where to start?
Here at the Florence Chamber, we’re passionate about helping businesses grow and connect and part of that means having a plan in place.
So, here’s where you start- with the 10 steps to starting your own business, courtesy of the Small Business Administration:

10 Steps to Starting a Business

Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business.

Step 1: Write a Business Plan

Use available SBA tools and resources to create a business plan. A written guide will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully.

Step 2: Get Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business.

Step 3: Choose a Business Location

Get advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

Step 4: Finance Your Business

Find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

Step 5: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

Step 6: Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Register your business name with your state government.

Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Step 7: Register for State and Local Taxes

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

Step 8: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

Step 9: Understand Employer Responsibilities

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.

Step 10: Find Local Assistance

Contact your local SBA office to learn more about how SBA can help.

Startup Resources

There are a number of available programs to assist startups, micro businesses, and underserved or disadvantaged groups. The following resources provide information to help specialized audiences start their own businesses.

You can save money when starting or expanding your business by using government surplus. From commercial real estate and cars, to furniture, computers and office equipment, find what you need for your business in one place.

To read the entire article and for more links and information, click below:

Florence RedWolves Baseball and Fireworks Set for Saturday Evening

(image courtesy: Florence RedWolves)

Join the Florence RedWolves THIS Saturday evening for a fun night of patriotic baseball and fireworks!

Gates for fans will open at 5:00 P.M. and first pitch between the Wolves and Petersburg is set for 7:00 P.M.

There will be a pre-game concert for fans with Mid-Life Crisis performing, courtesy of Dedicated Community Bank.

There will also be a Carbis Solutions’ Kids Zone!

Get all the details by clicking below:

Florence RedWolves Baseball and Fireworks

Roche Carolina to Close by End of 2019; Buyer Still Sought for Facility


Roche Carolina officials have now given a date as to when the plant will close- 2019.

Business and production will continue until that point and company workers and area economic development officials say the process of trying to find a buyer for the facility will continue.

Read more in this article from the Morning News: web article- Roche Carolina

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Cast Iron Waffles

(image courtesy: Joe Perry/ Morning News)

The Florence Chamber held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning for one of its newest members, Cast Iron Waffles.

The ceremony not only officially welcomed Cast Iron into the Chamber family, but also celebrated the one year anniversary of the business.

Cast Iron Waffles is located at 2151 W. Evans St. in Florence and is open from 7 am to 6 pm.

To view the complete gallery of images from today’s event, click on the link below: Media Gallery- Cast Iron Waffles Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Junior Golf Coming Back to the Florence Country Club

(image courtesy:

From the State Newspaper

By: Bob Spear

“On his way to membership in multiple halls of fame, teaching professional Grant Bennett turned Florence Country Club into the Mecca of junior golf in the 1950s and ’60s. No facility could match the parade of champions who learned the game there and piled up records to envy.

South Carolina’s golf community knows the names: U.S. junior champion Buddy Baker, Billy Womack, Jack Lewis Jr. and Randy and Russell Glover, to name a few.

All these years later, thanks to efforts by Ben Zeigler and John Orr, Florence CC is striving to regain its lofty station in junior golf. The combination of head pro Steve Behr and teaching pro Paul Woodbury, along with the membership’s backing, the club’s program for youngsters is flourishing. The rejuvenated Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational tournament represents the cherry atop the banana split.

The combination of focusing on the Bennett legacy and the South Carolina Junior Golf Association’s taking over the operation makes the tournament a must-play on the top juniors’ calendars. Overwhelming demand forced SCJGA head Chris Miller to turn down 49 entries for this year’s event.

“They’re trying to recapture the magic that Grant Bennett created, and they’re going gangbusters,” said Happ Lathrop, executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association and a driving force behind junior golf’s growth in the state. “They’re looking to build a teaching facility and a junior clubhouse. The possibilities are enormous in terms of helping golf grow among younger players.”

Before the state organization became involved four years ago, the tournament struggled to attract a quality field. Upon a recommendation from Fort Jackson GC and SCGA board member Jeff Connell, Zeigler came to Lathrop for direction.

Told the SCGA’s involvement would require raising funds, Zeigler replied, “That won’t be a problem,” and the tournament netted more than $30,000 the first year. This year’s program contains a lengthy list of sponsors – both corporate and individuals such as PGA Tour pro Tommy Gainey and wife Erin.

“Honoring former champions is important for a couple of reasons,” Lathrop said. “First, the young players learn about the legacy of Mr. Bennett. Second, they get to meet and hear from players who had some outstanding accomplishments in golf.”

The tournament honored Columbian Bobby Foster, the 1963 champion, this year. He followed Baker, Randy Glover and Lewis to be saluted for their successes.

“Some other clubs are doing what Florence is in focusing on junior golf, and that’s great to see,” Lathrop said. “Greenville Country Club has a program growing and the Country Club of Spartanburg just hired a junior-specific professional. Of course, everywhere (Hall of Fame pro) Jackie Seawell has been really worked on junior golf development.”

One young player bolted from the Wednesday afternoon reception to honor Foster saying, “I’ve got to go practice some more.”

He found the practice tee full of players with dreams of following Foster or Lewis or even U.S. Open champions Dustin Johnson and Lucas Glover, the latter’s credentials include winning the 1994 Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational.

“That’s a great sight,” said Lathrop, taking in the scene that included players both in the tournament field and those who hope to be there one day. “It’s spreading.”

Chip shots

Jacob Bridgeman (Inman) eagled the par-5 18th hole twice, the first time to pull even and the second time on the third playoff hole to edge Grant Sellers (McBee) for the title in the Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational. The pair tied at 135, two strokes better than Jack Parrott (Columbia) and Nick Willis (Cowpens). … Walter and Walt Todd (Laurens) won their second SCGA Dudley-Sullivan Father-Son Championship, edging Rusty and Brooks Massey(Lexington) by two strokes at Green Valley CC in Greenville. … Winners in the GolfweekAmateur Golf Tour tourney at Windermere: Paul Ponder (championship flight), Jason Breedlove (A flight), Chris Moore (B flight), Bryan Wilkerson (C flight) and Jimmy Mathias (D flight). Players compete in flights according to handicaps. To participate, call John Livoti(864-982-0876). … Connor Bruns (Duncan/Furman) defeated Johnson Holliday (Aynor/USC Aiken) 4 and 2 to win the SCGA’s South Carolina Match-Play title at Bear Creek GC on Hilton Head Island. … USC and Clemson players continue to reap All-America honors, including USC women Katelyn Dambaugh and Sarah Schmelzel, USC men Matt Nesmithand Will Starke, and Clemson men Stephen Behr and Austin Langdale. … It’s not how, but how many, which is a round-about way to report this correspondent made one of the less artistic holes-in-one on record on No. 7 at Florence CC.”

Read more here:

State Newspaper Article

SC Chamber Alerts Businesses to New Department of Labor Rule

(Image courtesy: SC Chamber of Commerce)

From the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce: State Chamber President Ted Pitts released an Action Alert to Chamber members urging them to contact their labor attorneys to discuss the new Department of Labor Persuader Rule before July 1, 2016.

The proposed Department of Labor rule would impact businesses’ client-attorney privilege and would also potentially change how businesses defend themselves in union situations.

Many in the business community are concerned that the rule could most negatively impact small businesses who do not have in-house legal departments to turn to for advice on labor relations issues.

Click below to read the statement in full from the SC Chamber of Commerce and for more information on how the rule could impact your business:

SC Chamber Action Alert