City of Florence receives economic development award - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

City of Florence receives economic development award

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FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The City of Florence announced it received the 2013 Achievement Award for Economic Development at the Municipal Association of South Carolina's annual meeting in Greenville.

"While the award was based on the performing arts center, it was really based on the fact that the Performing Arts Center created economic development," said Ray Reich, Florence Downtown Development Manager.

The City of Florence was recognized for its redevelopment efforts downtown,which began in 2005 with the hiring of a consultant to create a plan for downtown development. The plan focused on renewing arts and cultural development. Since beginning implementation, Florence has seen the additions of the Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation Library, Florence Little Theatre, Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center and soon the Florence county Museum.

The arts and cultural development in downtown Florence has proven to be successful to the economy, and continues to flourish with the addition of a boutique hotel, and new businesses and restaurants.

This year, 33 municipalities entered the Achievement Awards and nine were selected as winners

In 2011 Ella Frazier opened her clothing boutique in Downtown Florence. She remembers the traffic that used to stream in to the downtown district.

"It was very slow because there was no other store here except one other store and a couple barbershops and beauty shops."

Now, almost every building is filled with new businesses, and so much traffic filters through the area everyday it can be tough to find a parking spot.

The city realized many business owners like Frazier needed support to keep up with the new ordinances.

Grants and loans are being offered to business owners in the downtown corridor to help them make necessary changes.

"I really think people were waiting for this because I've been back here ten years and there was a lot of conversation about it; however nothing had happened then all of a sudden boom," said Frazier.

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