Florence incubator helps some small business owners

Published: Apr. 15, 2014 at 12:51 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 15, 2014 at 1:35 AM EDT
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FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Tourism dollars are helping small business owners launch their small businesses.

The Downtown Florence business incubator, inside of the North Dargan Innovation Center, supports small local businesses. Recently, the space has expanded to include co-working space.

"What I saw is that co-working is growing in popularity across the nation almost faster than businesses incubation services," said Robby Hill, a Florence City councilman.

When the space is complete, people who are looking for a work space and office resources will be able to rent a desk within the center.

"Offering people low cost, co-working spaces in our downtown drives more attention and more traffic and more economic vitality to our downtown community," said Hill.

Business owner Chris Canfield, said he is already seeing the benefits of the incubator.

Canfield moved his graphic design company into the incubator after working out of his house for seven years.

"It's allowed us to have a professional presence, established office, office space, office hours," he said.

Right now, four businesses are paying low rent and receive business coaching and access to office resources.

So far, along with the graphic design company, there is a magazine company, a life-coach company, as well as a tax and an accounting service.

All who when ready, will one day be able to fill one of the empty storefronts lingering in the downtown district.

"We're monitoring every month every quarter to make sure their businesses are growing and then we gently push them out of the door. And we hope that they can sustain themselves," said Hill.

Canfield said he hopes to one day to be able to offer Francis Marion University students and other talented graphic design professionals a job.

"I believe in the downtown redevelopment that is going on here and hopefully once my time is up hopefully we will be able to have an office downtown," said Canfield.

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