Florence mayor: City will be completely different in 2 years - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Florence mayor: City will be completely different in 2 years

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A new venture is in the works to grow the City of Florence and attract more people to the area.

Monday, Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela gave his annual State of the City address and spoke about the $100 million projects, slated within the city.

Wukela discussed and dismissed the notion that some areas of the city are being neglected.

He acknowledged in the past, areas like North Florence were put on the back burner, but said that now every area of Florence is seeing some type of investment or development.

Wukela also announced the second phase of revitalizing Florence, which is sports tourism.

“We really have the advantage because the proximity to I-95 and I-20 also, the proximity to other tourist attractions... the beach is close, Charleston is close,” said Wukela. "It's those advantages," he added, "that makes Florence the perfect place to host large sports competitions."

Already, more than $11 million is going into building a soccer complex and a gym, which the city hopes will attract people from around the country.

“People can come down have their tournaments in a convenient location, stay in a place that is less expensive than Charleston or the beach and then take their little trips to the beach or Charleston,” Wukela said.

Wukela said getting to that point will mean a little more work will have to go in.

“Over the past period of the recession, we haven't made the maintenance and improvements to the parks that we would have like to. Sorry to say, but other things were more prioritized because of the budget cycle,” Wukela said.

The mayor said recent investments are helping to increase the city's budget.

Part of that increase along with private investments are paving the way to increasing the city's sports tourism efforts.

“There is a very large track of land that surrounds the Tennis Facility. It's formally known as the Clemson track…. it was a Clemson University research center,” Wukela said.

Wukela said that land has been donated and soon the city will start working on making it the premier spot to house baseball tournaments.

Wukela added that investing in that field will take some of the demand off smaller baseball fields throughout the area and will ultimately play a major role in growing sports tourism, which means more dollars for the city.

“You generate an enormous amount of hospitality dollars through tournaments just as we have had this experience already,” Wukela said.

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