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The 2019 outlook for Florence is bright

January 1, 2019
Wallace Gregg Elementary will be combined with Timrod Elementary if the referendum is passed in 2019.

FLORENCE, S.C. – As 2019 arrives, groundbreakings roll into sight, as do grand openings and projects that could represent millions of dollars in investment in Florence County.

Florence County saw several notable projects come to completion in 2018, including the $32 million judicial center on North Irby Street and the $16 million expansion of the Florence Center.

Looking ahead to 2019, Pee Dee residents can expect a few similar announcements to be made.

Business

The Hyatt Place, which will be managed by Raines Hospitality, in downtown Florence is expected to open in February. The five-story, 103-room property will represent a $20 million investment in Florence. Raines Hospitality also is expected to open a new Comfort Inn & Suites near the Florence Center in the second quarter of the year.

In front of Magnolia Mall, Texas Roadhouse, the popular national food chain, is expected to finish construction and open in the summer of 2019.

Mike Miller, the president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said he anticipates new downtown Florence projects to be announced, as well as more retailers to flock to Florence.

“Just as we started out in 2018, you can anticipate another year of solid business progress,” Mille said. “Retail will continue to offer new national brand and local business openings. You’ll see more downtown Florence project announcements and some regional manufacturing expansions. Hospitality will continue to be a major factor in our growth.”

Government

Also on the radar for 2019 is the continued discussion of the new downtown development. The city of Florence will develop a comprehensive plan over the year, which will include an updated 10-year master plan for downtown Florence.

Although the official document isn’t expected to be released until 2020, Pee Dee residents will hear much about the updated plan throughout 2019.

In addition to the discussions of downtown revitalization, residents can expect to hear more about the efforts of the Florence County Council to provide raises to the sheriff’s department staff and the continued efforts of the newly re-elected statehouse delegation to pass their agendas in Columbia.

Education

In 2018, the Florence One Schools district has seen many changes. From a new superintendent to a new name and branding, the district has been taking a new direction.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Richard O’Malley, the district has implemented a new vision, Florence One in 2021, which focuses on building new facilities, communicating better with the community and providing an equitable education for all students.

“We are one,” O’Malley said during his speech at the convocation. “We are not a system of schools; we are going to become a school system. We are all going to work together for our community, for our schools, for our staff and our students.”

This year, the board approved a $198 million proposal for a referendum to build four new schools and renovate the district’s three high schools. The public will vote on the referendum on Feb. 26.

If passed, the three high schools will receive security improvements, athletic facilities and other improvements.

All three high schools will receive an athletic facility that can seat 5,000 individuals with an eight-lane track. They also will receive an auxiliary gym with weight and training rooms and two locker rooms with showers and toilets.

New Southside Middle and Williams Middle schools will be built. Savannah Grove Elementary will be rebuilt and Timrod Elementary and Wallace Gregg Elementary schools will be combined in a new school.

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