FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce held its fall legislative breakfast Friday morning at the Florence Civic Center.
It was the third year in a row the chamber hosted local and state representatives to give an overview of the legislature updates in South Carolina.
More than 100 local community leaders listened to Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers-Ervin, South Carolina District 63 Rep. Jay Jordan, and South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas.
Both legislators touched on infrastructure, education and communication, and how necessary those elements are for growth and success.
South Carolina is competing to attract more people to the area while also keeping the jobs already present. Jordan said that first step is centered around infrastructure and noted the Pee Dee is blessed with plenty.
"We have great leadership that has come before us and years gone by, it is such a benefit to have the interstate, the rail system we have, the airport, all those things to give us an increased opportunity on a larger scale to try to compete and attract those larger industries to our area," Jordan said.
Another topic he mentioned was the importance of education and how he wants to drive home the need to improve it at the next legislative session.
While the Pee Dee is seeing progress, some in the crowd, such as the CEO of Pepsi Florence, Jeff Stevens, said it's time to see even more.
"I am encouraged about all the development in the state, but I would like to see more development in the Pee Dee. I mean, Volvo and Boeing and Michelin and BMW, and it's great that that investment is happening in the state, but I would like to see more investment in the Pee Dee," Stevens said. "The Pee Dee is situated so close to interstate access. I mean, it's a great place to live and invest. The Avent family who started Pepsi here in Florence certainly saw that and invested here locally, and we are expanding."
Councilwoman Myers-Ervin centered her presentation around how the city of Florence is progressing.
"It's our desire that our city should be so beautiful that you would want to go through every aspect of the city to show it off, but that wasn't always the case and one of the things that held us back when it came to recruiting jobs and job retention in bringing companies in was the state of our historical downtown communities," said Myers-Ervin.
She is heading up the idea of putting community first and to build a new Florence. Myers-Ervin told the crowd the city is investing $8.5 million into improvement work.
"When we get finished, we will leave a path so that when anyone comes through Florence, South Carolina, will take something back with them because they want to emulate what we are doing," she said.