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Florence Developments

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Site Selection magazine has named Florence as its number 5 metro in the 200,000 and under catagory for attracting new industry in 2008. (wow, that was a mouthful) I've linked the article below.

http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2009/mar/Top-Metros/

What were the 8 that Florence nabbed in '08? Good news!

The cities ranking highest are completely opposite of what you'd think. The Rust Belt cities (Detroit, Dayton, Akron, Toledo, Bethlehem, Youngstown) as well as many metros teased as being the epitome of mundane (Des Moines, Sioux City, Dubuque, Elkhart, Muskegon) are tops. What gives?

Big news reports recently paint a very different picture for Elkhart, saying the town is hurting terribly with the RV and band instrument markets down so steeply. Elkhart is the center of manufacturing for those two industries in the U.S. And of course Detroit is the poster child for a hurting corporate economy. I wonder if these rankings pre-date the economic downturn?

Regardless, if Florence is still holding its own, then that's what matters for us in the State of S.C., I suppose.

Edited by digital_sandlapper

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To correct my earlier posting, the recognition was for metro areas for attracting new and expansion of existing industries. The 8 companies in Florence for 2008 are:

[*]H.J. Heinz Co. (pre-packaged frozen entr

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To correct my earlier posting, the recognition was for metro areas for attracting new and expansion of existing industries. The 8 companies in Florence for 2008 are:

[*]H.J. Heinz Co. (pre-packaged frozen entr

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What were the 8 that Florence nabbed in '08? Good news!

The cities ranking highest are completely opposite of what you'd think. The Rust Belt cities (Detroit, Dayton, Akron, Toledo, Bethlehem, Youngstown) as well as many metros teased as being the epitome of mundane (Des Moines, Sioux City, Dubuque, Elkhart, Muskegon) are tops. What gives?

Big news reports recently paint a very different picture for Elkhart, saying the town is hurting terribly with the RV and band instrument markets down so steeply. Elkhart is the center of manufacturing for those two industries in the U.S. And of course Detroit is the poster child for a hurting corporate economy. I wonder if these rankings pre-date the economic downturn?

Regardless, if Florence is still holding its own, then that's what matters for us in the State of S.C., I suppose.

I don't believe those rankings take into account the companies that have downsized or shut down, only new developments and expansions.

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Here are some pics of the FMU performing arts center under construction. The building site is huge, forming an L-shape around the bank at Irby & Palmetto. I believe the building will face Dargan, with side entrances on Palmetto and Cheves.

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Dargan St at Cheves looking north. Notice the new Thai restaurant on the right, which actually does decent business in the evening (at least on weekends)

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The restaurant and antique shop next to it are a big improvement over what was there.

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There's an art gallery in the old Kimbrells building, which is great. The exterior still needs a lot of work, but it's an improvement

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Finally, here is St Johns Episcopal church grounds, directly across from the arts center construction site on Dargan. Possibly Florence's finest aesthetic treasure.

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So things are coming along on the southern end of Dargan. Past the restaurant & the art gallery, however, things have changed little up Dargan & on the 100 block of Evans St. Uninviting slum is doing it justice. Plenty of boarded up and run down buildings, as well as loud, sloppy street characters hanging around the social club on Dargan, and thumping music blaring from parked cars.

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Some recent shots of the FMU Performing Arts Center under construction. Click to enlarge on the pan shots.

ENLARGE

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ENLARGE

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ENLARGE

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Palmetto & Dargan

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Irby & Palmetto, with the site of the old motel now an empty lot. Walgreens was originally supposed to build a store on the site, but they appartently backed out.

ENLARGE

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Finally, here's a shot from Dargan Street, facing north with FMU-PAC construction ahead on the left.

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Edited by flotown

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Thanks for the updates flowtown. Florence is really doing some great things downtown. I forgot about FMU's performace center. It's good to see universities investing in downtowns across the state. It's a shame we don't get more participation from Florentines/Forentinians/Fiorentini (or whatever you call yourselves :) )

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It's Florentines.

Construction is moving fast on the FMU building.

Construction will start soon on a parking deck for McLeod Regional Medical Center. It will be in the front nd will be three levels. I hope it doesn't ruin the attractive appearance of the Medical facilities. I question how this is going to look.

Edited by vicupstate

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McLeod will be constructing another parking deck beside the Pavilion tower. This is the latest news from the downtown area. The old library is still undecided on its purpose.

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That is good news... though that link just takes your to the Morning News website. Can you link to the article itself?

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Florence County has agreed to purchase 5 properties across from the City-County Complex to consolidate the solictitor offices. Perhaps this property will be used for the Judicial Center. The county has wanted the property for many years, but only now has an agreement been reached. The price is $1.4 mm. If that is for the buildings only, that seems high to me. If it includes the old "sears" property which is fairly large, then it isn't so bad. It will be interesting to see what happens. I fear the old buildings on the site will be demo'ed.

Florence County to buy properties

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This building turned out great. I saw it on my last trip home. Kudos to all involved. A 1970's addition which did not really match the original architecture was demolished and replaced with an appropriate addition. It looks seemless and very appropriate now.

Two big thumbs up!!

Former County Library reborn as Turner Padget Law Offices

Edited by vicupstate

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Boutique Hotel proposed for Downtown Florence

This is a very bold project. The area around this location is quite distressed. The principals (some of whom were involved with the old library project discussed above) deserve the tax break they are requesting. What has the city got to lose? That building can't be paying much taxes now.

Has anyone been to Victor's restaurant, whihc would relocate with this project?

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While visiting family and reviewing some old copies of the Morning News, I came across an article that discussed 'Project Rosebud'. Florence County Council was approving FILOT status for it. That has to do with reducing the Property taxes on it.

It is projected to have 360 jobs paying $25 per hour. Both figures were considered 'conservative'. Assuming it comes through, it would be pretty substantial for that area.

In other news, a new Downtown Manager has been hired to oversee Florence's plans. He holds that same position in Sumter currently. Supposedly he has been pretty successful there.

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Roche plant staying put - for now

Good news , but it will be up in the air again in a few years. Also, sad to hear that the 80 or so research jobs are leaving. It seems SC is only good at recruiting manufacturing and warehouse jobs these days. Sad to say.

I'm not really surprised at the research jobs leaving since Florence doesn't have a research university. I think those jobs would have been retained if the plant were in Charleston, Columbia, or the Upstate.

But otherwise, yes, SC isn't doing a good job at attracting knowledge-based, high wage jobs unfortunately.

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Well, Florence didn't have a research university in 1994 either, yet they came.

Probably due to a boatload of incentives and local political influence (e.g., Hugh Leatherman). When the incentives dry up, these companies start looking elsewhere, especially if there's not a local skilled workforce in place that might help them to stay in place after the temporary benefits are exhausted.

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Probably due to a boatload of incentives and local political influence (e.g., Hugh Leatherman). When the incentives dry up, these companies start looking elsewhere, especially if there's not a local skilled workforce in place that might help them to stay in place after the temporary benefits are exhausted.

Then Governor Carroll Campbell negotiated that deal, and Leatherman had MUCH less seniority/power back then.

When they first opened they had no problems getting their high paying employees to transfer to Florence because of the low cost of living, weather, etc. as compared to New Jersy (I think that was where they came from). Maybe that changed over the years.

Getting Roche was a really big deal at the time, (because of the high-tech, research nature of it), so it is a real step back to lose their research element now.

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