State of the city and county address held in Florence

State of the city and county address held in Florence

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city and county of Florence are working together to make sure the community knows where its future lies.

A State of the City and County Address was held at the Florence Civic Center on Thursday. The annual outlook luncheon is hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

The featured speaker for the city was Mayor Stephen Wukela, while Kent Caudle, chairman of Florence County Council, represented the county.

Both men spoke on the public and private partnerships the city and the county have.

Hundreds of the major business leaders and elected officials listened as Wukela and Caudle talked about the past of the city and county and where both are heading.

"In the last 10 years, two 1-cent sales tax that run concurrently has pumped over $600 million in our local economy, and we did it all without raising property tax a dime, not one penny," Caudle said.

Wukela believes Florence is in a true renaissance. Since the mayor's declaration in 2013, he said over $150 million in public, private, and non-profit investment has been poured into the city.

"We have a new sense of self, and rightly so, and of self-respect, as we should," Wukela said. "Our renaissance folks was not by accident, it was not by chance or luck. It wasn't a gift from outside, it is man-made. We just decided to do it."

Kyle Baxter, chief operating officer for Carolinas Hospital System said local and state officials are working together to promote the development of infrastructure around the region.

"I have never seen it before coming from another state," Baxter said.

Baxter said the Carolinas Hospital System is a top 10 employer for healthcare alone in the region and that it's important to see the county and city officials educate the workforce.

"We have a relationship with Mayo Clinic and were one of 40 in the nation to have that relationship and the only (one) in South Carolina," Baxter said.

Carolinas Hospital System wants to support business growth and see Florence continue to be a regional draw. Baxter said he's seen investment spiraling all over and he heard the commitment to continue from both Wukela and Caudle.

Wukela wanted everyone in the room to know it was finally time for people to start noticing change in the city. According to Caudle, it's the county's goal to stay progressive. He noted that anywhere people look, they will see construction on a new project happening.

Both Wukela and Caudle said they don't plan on stopping the renaissance and the flourishment going on right now.

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