Bela Family Dentistry Celebrates Opening in Florence

by Ardie Arvidson

Bela Family Dentistry of Florence joined ambassadors of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Thursday to celebrate its grand opening and its chamber membership. The celebration included a ribbon cutting with chamber ambassadors.

Dr. John DuRant, who was formerly at the Bela office on West Palmetto Street, and Dr. Liz Shelly from the Darlington office have moved into this facility to better serve the community.

They have seven dentistry rooms to serve patients. Bela provides general dentistry to children through adults. Services include restoring implants, denture services, gum treatments, filings, crowns and bridges.

“It is a great location with state-of-the-art equipment,” DuRant said.

Shelly has been in South Carolina for 30 years but is originally from Chicago. She attended Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago.

DuRant is a native of Gable. He received his undergraduate degree from Clemson University and his dental degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. He did a one-year residency at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“We are happy to be a part of this community,” Shelly said.

“I am very excited,” DuRant said.

Dr. Matthew Cook, the chief executive officer, welcomed guests to the ribbon cutting. He thanked the ambassadors for coming out and supporting them.

For additional information about the services, call 843-662-8413.

To view the full story on SC Now, click here.

Chamber and Agape Hospice Host Business After Hours

The Florence Chamber of Commerce held a Business After Hours with Agapé Hospice at their new location in Florence on 1516 W Palmetto St on Thursday, May 23.

The guests were able to enjoy food, drinks, music, and fresh air as they networked with other professionals in their area.

Agape decorated their building with a multitude of flower umbrellas in correspondence with their theme “Life Blooms Eternally.”

Chamber welcomes Carolina Kickboxing Academy

by Ardie Arvidson

A ribbon cutting was held Monday at Carolina Kickboxing Academy, 1717 W. Palmetto St. to announce the opening and recognize a new member of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. Chamber ambassadors helped to celebrate the occasion.

Chief executive officer and head trainer Walker Vivian said his academy has been open for approximately three months.

He has been teaching kickboxing for roughly 12 years. Before opening his own establishment in Florence, Vivian taught in Las Vegas at Syndicate Mixed Martial Arts.

“I wanted to move back home,” Vivian said.

“I started when I was 17 years old in Myrtle Beach,” Vivian said.

He said he moved to Thailand for approximately five years between 2010 and 2015 to fight and train.

Vivian said he likes the competition aspect, but he started kickboxing for health reasons. He said he is a Type 1 diabetic and needs to stay healthy.“That is why I got into it,” he said. “It is a good challenge mentally and physically. You learn a life-long skill.”

He said it is a lot of fun, too.

Vivian has taught his 10-year-old son, Brody, to kick box. His son helps him teach classes. Vivian said his son is the West Coast kickboxing champion for his age group.

Vivian teaches Muay Thai, kickboxing, self-defense and anti-bullying classes.

“I have about 25 students, but I want 125 students,” he said.

He said he teaches ages 5 to 100.

“People can come and try their first class for free,” he said.

Hours are 10 to 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and 4 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

To sign up, stop by or call 843-380-3037.

To view the full story on SC Now, click here.

Business Over Breakfast Had a Great Turnout

The Greater Florence Chamber held a Business Over Breakfast networking event sponsored and hosted by Bethea Retirement Community.

More than 30 professionals were able to enjoy a delicious breakfast, discuss their business, and network with other Chamber members and business professionals.

Young Professionals of Florence Hold First Lunch & Learn

The Young Professionals Of Florence had a great turn out for our FIRST Lunch and Learn that was held Thursday May 23. There were a little over 26 in attendance and that is a GREAT turnout for a new event!

Big thanks to Raines Hospitality and Hyatt Place for hosting us and Notch8 for catering! Caroline Jones Toniolo from Edward Jones was the keynote speaker and gave an insight to 401k and financial planning for retirement. Her overview was eye opening and very thoroughly executed to break down the pertinent information associated with financial planning. To those who attended, we thank you for your support and we’re glad you enjoyed it.

Another thanks to the Board of YPF who put this together. Our new board members have been putting together great ideas to get everyone involved and really get YPF going again!

Business After Hours with Chamber and Agape Hospice

The Florence Chamber of Commerce held a Business After Hours with Agape Hospice at their new location in Florence on 1516 W Palmetto St on Thursday, May 23.

The guests were able to enjoy food, drinks, music, and fresh air as they networked with other professionals in their area.

Agape decorated their building with a multitude of flower umbrellas in correspondence with their theme “Life Blooms Eternally.”

Florence Chamber Offers ‘Business over Breakfast’

From staff reports

Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce members and others are invited to a breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Bethea Retirement Community.

“Business Over Breakfast” offers a chance to discuss your business and network with other members and business professionals. Door prizes will be awarded.

To RSVP, call the chamber at 843-665-0515 or visit

Bethea Retirement Community is located at 157 Home Avenue in Darlington.

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

To register online, click here.

Class of 2019 Graduates After Completing Nine-Month Leadership Florence Program

by Ardie Arvidson

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Florence Class of 2019 held its graduation on Wednesday night at Honda of South Carolina Manufacturing Inc. in Timmonsville.

Kristin Nesmith of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce was presented the Outstanding Participant Award. All graduates received plaques.

The nine-month course began with a trip to Myrtle Beach on Sept. 10 for one of two retreats. The two-day beach retreat was cut short because of the approach of Hurricane Florence. On Nov. 15, the group participated in a team-building attraction called Locked-Inn.

During Wednesday night’s program, four Leadership graduates gave an overview of the “year at a glance.” They talked about the retreat days, the “Ride-a-Mile in My Shoes” Day, Media Day, Legislative Day, Law Enforcement Day and other sessions of the Leadership Class. Each one told how he or she had been affected by the class. They were Deanna Hayne, Jessica Morris, Anita Taylor and Tavorous Collins.

Four members of the class, Brian Davison, Kristin Nesmith, Stephanie Bosch and Ania Dixon talked about the class project and the class plans for the proceeds.

The 36-member graduating class held a ” Poppin’ Shells for A Good Cause” oyster roast in April to raise money for local charities, and on Wednesday night, they presented three nonprofits with $5,873.60 each. Empowered to Heal, Harvest Hope Food Bank and Mercy Medicine were the chosen charities.

About $28,000 was raised through sponsorships, ticket sales to the event and a silent auction.

The keynote speaker was Aaron Robinson of Honda.

The class also heard remarks from Chamber board Chairwoman Mindy Taylor of Duke Energy.

Members of the 2019 Leadership Florence were Allen Abernethy-, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center; Sheri Ard, McLeod Health; Tony Berry, Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc.; Stephanie Bosch, Francis Marion University; Ashley W. Bunn, Wilcox Office Mart; Jordan Burns, Pee Dee Nephrology; Michelle Byers, Florence Morning News/SC Now; William Calcutt, Jr., Florence Morning News; Tavorous Collins, Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority; Brian Davison, Florence Center; Ania Dixon, First Bank; Joette Dukes, Pee Dee Regional Council of Governments; Matthew Ethridge, Hodge Ethridge Agency; Deanna Hayne, Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc.; Alger Holloman, Sharonview Federal Credit Union; Rufus Jackson, HopeHealth, Inc.; Brenda Kennedy, Keystone healthcare and Wellness; Thomas Kennedy, Signature Wealth Strategies; Jennifer Massey, Pepsi Cola of Florence; Clint Moore, City of Florence; Jessica Morris, ADP Tax Credits; David Mullins, First Reliance Bank; Steve Mumford, Florence County Sheriff’s Office; Kristin Nesmith, Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce; Cameron Packett, Florence County Economic Development Partnership; Kelley Prevatte, HopeHealth; Sara Ashley Richardson; Jennifer Robinson, Empowered to Heal; Chris Rogers, Florence One Schools; Kyle Srimoungchanh, Duke Energy Progress; Daniel St. Pierre, GE Healthcare; Lauren Stafford, Carolina Bank & Trust; Anita Taylor, Florence County; Caroline Toniolo, Edward Jones; Sarah Travis, The Manor and Maria West, GE Healthcare.

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

Last Leadership Session for the 2018-2019 Class

Tuesday, May 14th, the Chambers Leadership Florence class had their last session of the year, Business and Industry Day.

The class visited and toured Honda, McCall Farms and GE, and had a great breakfast and lunch, courtesy of Honda and GE respectively.

The Leadership Florence class of 2019 is set to graduate May 22nd at Honda.

2018-2019 Fellows In Education Graduate & Reflect

Thirty community and area business leaders received certificates for completing the Fellows in Education Program at the Review and Graduation luncheon hosted by Duke Energy on Wednesday May 15, 2019.

The program was designed to give leaders a behind-the-scenes look into Florence One Schools. It’s a partnership program between Florence One Schools, The School Foundation and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

Participants of the Fellows program met eight times throughout the year to tour different Florence 1 Schools and learn about student needs and the state and federal requirements placed on schools, teachers and administrators in district. The goal is for current and past participants can share firsthand knowledge in the community about the education system and help collaborate with policymakers and the business community on educational concerns.

To commemorate the completion of the program, participants received a framed certificate as they were congratulated by Florence 1 Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley, Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce President Michael Miller and The School Foundation Executive Director Debbie Hyler.