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City leaders pumping money into downtown Florence to encourage more retail properties

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city is pumping money into downtown Florence to draw retail developments into the area.

The money is being rewarded in the form of grants to eight businesses in downtown Florence.

“Certainly, we appreciate the city supporting us as a new venture in downtown Florence,” said Doris Lockhart, co-business owner of Mi Ladies.

Lockhart is one of three ladies who just opened Mi Ladies a month ago.

Monday, the city announced Mi Ladies, along with seven other businesses will each receive a $30,000 grant to help with improvements.

Lockhart said that money is going toward ceiling and flooring upgrades.

Mayor Stephen Wukela said these annual grants will help attract smaller businesses who operate under a budget of $250,000 or less.

“Roof repair or stabilization type grants, interior up fit and rent subsidies,” City of Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela City of Florence said.

Wukela said city council is allowing these grants because smaller business owners don't always have the money needed to do complete overhauls on properties in downtown Florence.

“We need more rental-ready space downtown. While you had buildings that had facades improved the interior needed up-fit before renters could come in. You had renters who were looking downtown, but there wasn't any rental ready space,” Wukela said.

City leaders said it's looking to attract more retail businesses to the area.

Not every business is eligible for the grant; business that have already received incentives packages are not eligible to apply.

But for small business owners like Lockhart and her crew she says it helps that the city is backing their business because they want to see downtown thrive again.

“Well we remember when downtown Florence was thriving, and that's something we want to see continue are comeback,” Lockhart said.

City leaders said that grant money is coming out of the general fund.

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