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Florence( ) is the largest city in and the county seat of Florence Countymarker, South Carolinamarker, United Statesmarker. Known as the Florence Metropolitan Statistical Area, Florence adjoins Darlingtonmarker to form the core of "Pee Dee" region of South Carolina, an area that includes the eight counties of northeastern South Carolinamarker along with sections in southeastern North Carolinamarker. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population was 31,570 at the 2000 census (90,128 total pop. of Florence Urbanized Area).This 1997 All-America City finalist, was founded as a railroad hub city of Florence became the junction of three major railroad systems; the Wilmington and Manchester, The Northeastern, and the Cheraw and Darlington. Florence would quickly grow as a planned city. Today, the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure. In modern times, the city has taken on additional dimension as a center for business culture and finance,with its rich historic homes domanting medical center towers,and progressive educational institutions come together to form a destination for the northeastern portion of South Carolina.


Though Florence was part of one of the original townships laid out by the Lords Proprieters in 1719, it was slowly and thinly settled until the coming of the railroads. Prior to them, the Pee Dee River was the route of most commerce. Early settlers practiced subsistence farming and produced indigo, cotton, naval stores and timber, which was shipped downriver to the port at Georgetownmarker and exported.

In the mid-19th century two intersecting railroads were built, The Wilmington and Manchester, and the Northeastern. Gen. W. W. Harllee, the president of the W & M road built his home at the junction, and named the community Florence, after his daughter.

During the Civil War the town was an important supply and railroad repair center for the Confederacy, and the site of the Florence Stockade, a prison for Union prisoners of war. Many of the prisoners died during the latter years of the war, and the burial ground adjacent to the stockade was to become the Florence National Cemetery, which continues to be a national burial ground for veterans of all wars since.

The Civil War also brought to prominence Henry Timrod, nicknamed The Poet Laureate of the Confederacy, who taught at a schoolhouse on the Cannon Plantation nearby.

After the war, Florence grew and prospered, using the railroad to supply its cotton, timber, and by the turn of the century, tobacco.

During the 20th century Florence grew into a major medical center, of far greater importance than its size. Industry grew, especially after World War II, when Florence became increasingly known for textiles, pharmaceuticals, paper, manufacturing and in addition to agricultural products, which makes it the hub for business in the northeastern portion of South Carolina.

On March 11, 1958, an H-bomb was accidentally dropped on the town. Although the 200 pounds of TNT detonated causing some damage, the nuclear portion remained intact.


Florence is located at (34.184088, -79.774147). Autumn, winter and spring are mild, with occasional winter nights below freezing but rarely extended cold. Florence's summers can be very hot and humid. The city, like other cities of the southeast, is prone to Inversions, which trap ozone and other pollutants over the area.

Florence is located in the coastal plain of South Carolina. The terrain is mostly flat. The average elevation above sea level is around 140 ft. Jeffries Creek is a tributary of the Great Pee Dee River and is the main waterway that flows through the city of Florence.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.7 square miles (45.9 km²), of which, 17.7 square miles (45.8 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.17%) is water.


Municipal government and politics

Florence City-County Courthouse and office complex, Florence, South Carolina

The City of Florence has a council-manager form of government. The mayor and city council are elected every four years, with no term limits. Unlike other mayors in council-manager systems, Florence mayor has the power to veto ordinance passed by the council; vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the council.The council appoints a city manager to serve as chief administrative officer to run the day-to-day business of the city and serves at the pleasure of the council. The current City Manager of Florence is David Williams.

The current mayor of Florence is Stephen J. Wukela. Wukela, who is currently serving his first term, elected in 2008. Florence holds elections for mayor every four years, with the next election in 2012; there are no term limits.

The city council consists of seven members (three from districts and three at-large). The city council is responsible for making policies and enacting laws, rules and regulations in order to provide for future community and economic growth, in addition to providing the necessary support for the orderly and efficient operation of city services.

  • Bill Bradham
  • Steven Powers
  • Octavia Williams-Blake

  • 1: Billy Williams (Mayor-Pro Tem)
  • 2: Edward Robinson
  • 3: Buddy Brand


During the latter part of the 20th Century and early 21st Century, Florence's economy was transformed from based largely on rail and farming into a diversified economy as the major commerce, finance, rail and trucking services, health care, and industral center of the Eastern Carolinas.. There are over 9 foreign affiliated companies and fourteen Fortune 500 companies in the region. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the Florence metropolitan statistical area as of 2005 was $6.3 billion, one of the highest among MSAs in the state.

McLeod Pavillon Tower, Florence, South Carolina
Milken Institute 2008 Best Performing Cities Indexshowed the Florence MSA as the 5th largest gainer in their evaluation of the top 124 small metropolitan areas in the United States. The report ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary and technology growth.

Florence has blossomed into a strong center for medical care, with three major medical providers McLeod Regional Medical Center, Carolinas Hospital System and HealthSouth. The growth of these providers has lead to the transformation of the Florence skyline over the last 10 years, with development for demand with multi-story high-rises as well as community relation projects.

With such a stong medical community several companies have their global, continental, or national headquarters in Florence, including General Electric Medical Systems manufacturing operations, TriCare Division of BCBS of SC supplemental insurance company that serves the US Armed Forces and its civilian employees, Assurant Specialty Property a real property and personal insurance company.The city also the serves the pharmaceutical industry: with the North America headquarters for Hoffmann–La Roche Swiss-owned company that provides a wide range of services to the pharmaceutical industry and research and development center for IRIX Pharmaceuticalsand ACS Technologiesa software development company.

Florence also serves as the financial and service hub for the Eastern Carolinas, with many financial and professional management institutions invested heavily within the city. Companies with regional operations and headquarters to include, JP Morgan Chase, First Reliance Bank, ADP Tax Credit Services,BB&T, and Bank of America. Florence has operation headquarters for at&t and Progress Energy Inc

Florence has benefited being located at the intersection of I-95 and I-20, approximately halfway between New York Citymarker and Miami, Floridamarker. The city is located 80 miles east from the state capital Columbiamarker, 70 miles west from Myrtle Beachmarker, 120 miles North of Charleston, and 110 miles southeast of Charlotte, North Carolinamarker. This has allowed Florence to remain competive and bringing in and sustaining major manufacturers such as Honda,ESAB,DuPont-Teijin Films,QVC Distribution Center, and Heinz.

Public Education

The public school system (Florence Public Schools) is run by the Florence School District One as the governing body of the school district with Larry Jackson as superintendent. As of the 2009-2010, the system has an active enrollment of 14,500 students, attending a total of 17 schools: including 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 3 high schools serving the City of Florence, Effingham and Quinby areas. The school system also supports an alternative school for middle and/or high school students,a vocational career center, and an adult learning center.The district and its schools have been recognized as being among the state's best with numerous awards, including the Palmetto's Finest Award.

Private Schools (8)

Higher education

Florence is home to Francis Marion University- which was founded in 1970, is a public liberal arts college in Florence. Located about seven miles east of Florence, the 300-acre campus is known for its beautiful foliage and landscaping.
Francis Marion University Nursing Center

FMU takes pride in providing a strong liberal arts foundation in a broad range of undergraduate majors. The University also offers two professional schools in education and business. At the graduate level, FMU offers programs in business, education, and psychology. With an enrollment of 4,000 students, 93 percent of its students come from South Carolina, the University enrolls students from 32 states and 34 foreign countries, allowing FMU to experience the diversity of people from other cultures. Francis Marion University offers programs and services in continuing education, technical and professional assistance, industrial and economic development, and artistic and cultural enrichment. Many of the community's cultural arts exhibits are sponsored by the university, including concerts, lectures, plays, art exhibits and film series.

U.S. News & World Report ranked FMU as one of the top 100 master's-level universities in the South in its 2007 edition of America's Best Colleges. The magazine has also recognized FMU for having one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the South.

Most of the university's buildings have been constructed or renovated since 1970 and all are fully accessible. These state-of-the-art edifices are funded in large part by the private Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation. One of the busiest places on campus is the James A. Rogers Library, which is a valuable resource for students, residents, business and industries in the region.

Florence Darlington Technical College-was established in 1963 and presently serves Florence, Darlington, and Marion counties. The college currently serves nearly 4,000 curriculum students and more than 25,000 regional residents through its continuing education division. The main campus contains eight major buildings on 246 address. The college operates satelite campuses in Hartsville, Lake City and Mullins. In addition, a site in Darlington County houses the socmetology center and downtown Florence is home to the Health Sciences Campus.

The Southeastern Institute for Manufacturing and Technology (SIMT) opened 2007 on a 146-acre tract behind FDTC's main campus. SIMT aids the College in achieving its mission of assisting business and industry in training workers for tomorrow's jobs.The FDTC online college was the first in South Carolina to offer complete programs via the Internet and has grown to offer more than 100 courses and several associate degree programs via the web.

Coker College in Hartsvillemarker and Coastal Carolina Universitymarker in Conwaymarker are also not far away.


McLeod Regional Medical Center
McLeod Regional Medical Center is a 453-bed non-profit medical center located on a 75 acre campus in Downtown Florence, the hospital complex in downtown contains the Cardiovascular Institute, the Center for Advance Surgery, the Cancer Center and the only Children's Hospital unit in the Northeastern portion of South Carolina. It encompasses acute care facilities such as McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence as well as McLeod Medical Center in Dillon and McLeod Medical Center in Darlington and also operates campuses all over the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.

Carolinas Hospital System, a leading regional healthcare facility with 420-beds, serves eight counties in Northeastern, South Carolina. For thousands of patients who use the facility every year, CHS makes a commitment to offering personalized, compassionate care and to being at the forefront for innovative surgery and the latest in cutting-edge technology for diagnosis and treatment.

Regency Hospital , opened its doors in Florence, in July, 2001. It is a 40-bed Long Term Acute Care (LTAC) hospital located on the fourth and fifth floor of the Cedar Towers, at 121 Cedar Street. Regency with its corporate office is based in Alpharetta, Georgia, has 20 hospitals nationwide and continues to aggressively grow throughout the country.

McLeod Regional Medical Center and Carolinas Hospital System are first and third largest employers in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina ..



  • Interstate 20 is a four lane interstate highway, which enters the city from the west and has a terminus in Florence as (David McLeod Blvd Business Spur), also this is a popular entrance to the area if coming into the city. Interstate 20 connects the city to Columbia, SCmarker, Atlantamarker, Dallasmarker, and the American West.

  • U.S. Route 52 is a more direct path from through Florence a North to South route through downtown Florence. The road crosses Interstate 95 in the northwest of downtown then merges with US 301 and before it exists the city to the south with a junction with SC 51 to Charleston, South Carolinamarker

  • U.S. Highway 301 offers another north to south route into Florence. Entering the city merged with US 52 as South Irby Street it then forms a crescent moon shaped by pass around downtown as Freedom Boulevard. US 301 then merges with US 76 east of Downtown Florence and exits as such.

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Mass transit

The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA), is the princial agency responsible for operating mass transit in greater Florencea area including Darlingtonmarker, Marionmarker, Chesterfieldmarker, Dillonmarker, and the Lake City area, PDRTA also operates routes to Columbiamarker, Myrtle Beachmarker and Sumtermarker.

PDRTA operates express shuttles, and bus service serving Florence and its immediate surrounds areas. The authority was established in June1974 which is South Carolina’s Oldest and Largest RTA. PDRTA began operations serving the six-county Pee Dee region of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, and Marlboro Counties. The PDRTA has provided transportation for more than 15 million passengers and daily PDRTA transports approximately 2,457 people. PDRTA operates services with 165 vehicles ranging in size from transit, intercity buses, and trolleys to lift-equipped vans and goshens About PDRTA</<>ref>.


The city and its surroundings are served by Florence Regional Airportmarker (IATA:FLO; ICAOmarker:KFLO), which is located 2 miles east of downtown Florence on US 76. The airport itself is serviced by Delta Connection and US Airways Express and is the second busiest airport in the region behind Myrtle Beach International Airportmarker .

Intercity Rail

Amtrak's The Palmetto trains 89, 90 and the The Silver Meteor trains 97, 98 connect Florence with the cities of New Yorkmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Baltimoremarker, Washingtonmarker, Jacksonvillemarker, Tampamarker and Miamimarker.

Intercity Bus

Greyhound Lines and Southeastern Stages operates a station on Irby Street, in the southern part of downtown, providing Florence with intercity bus transportation.

Downtown revitalization

The city of Florence has recently under taken a massive redevelopment of Downtown Florence. The city has completed several notable projects and has several more planned. The Downtown Redevelopment District was originally a seventy square block area encompassing some 500 acres in the heart of the City of Florence, but now has added over 100 more acres of the Timrod Park area with its historic homes. The redevelopment of Florence has even created a new branding effort, to include new city department logos (not to be confused with the city seal) way finding signs and repainting of water towers.
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The historic downtown district running from the central business district toward the McLeod Medical Center, features a number of historic buildings that have been rehabilitated. The redevelopment started with the $ 18 million dollar Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, and today now has the new Florence Little Theater,some 60 new apartments and now under construction and to be finished in 2010 the Francis Marion Center for Performing Arts as well the new Florence Museum Of Art, Science & History.New office space has emerged from once abandoned buildings, and a police substation was added on once crime ridden Dargan Street.

Special efforts are being aimed at Downtown, which was once the center of the city's activity but remains dormant after retailers and shoppers left for suburban malls. The goal is to re-establish Evans as a vibrant commercial and residential corridor, and five blocks of Evans Street will be streetscaped.

People and Culture


As of the census of 2000, there were 30,248 people, 11,925 households, and 7,882 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,709.4 people per square mile (659.8/km²). There were 13,090 housing units at an average density of 739.7/sq mi (285.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 52.96% White, 44.77% Black (U.S. Census), 0.18% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.76% of the population.

There were 11,925 households out of which 30.2% had children living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 20.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 82.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,388, and the median income for a family was $42,250. Males had a median income of $35,633 versus $23,589 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,336. 19.3% of the population and 15.3% of families were below the poverty line. 28.2% of those under the and 15.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Florence is the central city of a metropolitan area with a total population of 198,443 (2005 estimate), including the entire populations of Florence and Darlington counties. However, in the more detailed 2000 Census data, only about 54% of this metro was urbanized, consisting of the urban areas Florence (2000 pop.: 67,314), Hartsville (14,907), Darlington (12,066), and Lake Citymarker (8,728). The remainder of the Florence metro is considered rural.


Like any other midsize cities in the southern US, Florence's population is largely dominated by Protestantism, the largest being the Southern Baptists, followed by the Methodists. The rest of the population are distributed among other Protestant denominations as well as the Roman Catholic Church. The Greek Orthodox Church holds a large Greek Festival annually in September. There is one set of synagogues in with in the Florence, Reform Judaism Beth Israel Congregationmarker.

Famous natives and residents

Among the famous people and groups connected to Florence are:


Professional sports teams

Club Sport League Venue Logo
Florence Phantoms Indoor football American Indoor Football Association Florence Civic Centermarker
Florence Red Wolves Baseball Coastal Plain League Legion Stadium
Pee Dee Hockey League-Adult Hockey League Hockey Recreational Florence Civic Centermarker
Florence is home to the AIFL's Florence Phantoms, which debuted in the league in 2006. The Phantoms play in the Florence Civic Center.Florence was also home to the Southern Professional Hockey League's now-Twin City Cyclones, who played from 2005-07. This team was part of a two event package in 2004 to replace the now defunct Pee Dee Pride (to be the Myrtle Beach Thunderboltz) from the ECHL. The building was also the home of the South Carolina Fire Ants of Major League Roller Hockey in 1998 [20036].

Darlington Racewaymarker is officially in the Florence market, ten miles to the west of the city, and was the home of the Southern 500 until the Ferko lawsuit eliminated the race in favor of a second race at Texas Motor Speedwaymarker.

Baseball has a long history in the Florence, dating back to 1920’s when the Florence Swamp Foxes were founded. The Toronto Blue Jays had a minor league team that played in Florence from 1981 to 1986. Major league players Pat Borders, Jimmy Key, Cecil Fielder and Fred McGriff made stops in Florence during their minor league careers. Florence's Post 1 American Legion baseball team is one of the longest tenured teams in the state, beginning in 1932. Drawing the best high school talent from all over the Pee Dee area each summer, Post 1 has had over 30 players move on the professional ranks (most notably Reggie Sanders). They have won 28 league championships and 2 state titles, and was awarded the host site for the 2008 American Legion State Tournament.

Also playing in Florence was the short-lived Florence Flame independent Class A team from the Atlantic Coast League. Adding to the tradition of baseball in Florence, the Flame led the league in attendance in 1995, their one year in existence. Today, the Coastal Plain League Florence Red Wolves carries on that long tradition. The team, founded in 1998, is a summer baseball team for SEC and ACC players from around the Southeast. The team's stadium (American Legion Stadium) was home to the 2004 All-Star game and Home Run Derby. In 2007, the Red Wolves hosted the Petitt Cup Tournament at their home field. The Red Wolves were knocked out on the first night in an 8-7 loss to Thomasville.


Florence and Grand Strand share a common defined market by Nielsen Media Research in Horrymarker, Marionmarker, Dillon, Darlington, Marlboro, Scotland, Robeson, and Florencemarker counties. The Florence/ Myrtle Beach Market is the 103rd largest market in the USA as defined by Nielsen Media Research. Television stations serving the area are as follows in the blue box:


Florence, along with The Pee Dee Region, makes up the 217th largest radio market in the United States. Radio stations serving the area are as follows in the blue box:


The Florence Morning News is the largest daily paper published in the Pee Dee, with a readership base extending from Cheraw, South Carolina, Marion South Carolina, Darlington, South Carolina to Williamsburg, South Carolina. The paper has been in existence since 1922 and is published by Media General . The area is also served by several weekly papers, including The News Journal, the Community Times. The city has SC Black NewsandQ-Notes, a bi-weekly newspaper serving the LGBT community and published in Charlottemarker, is distributed to locations in Florence and via home delivery.


In 2005 Florence had the highest number of total violent crimes per 100,000 residents according to the "Crime In the United States" publication released by the FBI ( Florence had 1,286.4 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. This number was up from approximately 1,132 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2004. Florence has the highest aggravated assault rate in the United States.

In 2005 there were 16 murders, 102 rapes, 445 robberies and 2009 aggravated assaults in the Florence area. Additionally, there were 11,463 property crimes, including burglaries, thefts and motor vehicle thefts. Property crimes occurred at a rate of 5733.4 per 100,000 residents. The population of the area included in the survey was 199,935.

In 2006 the crime rate decreased as the population increased. There were 201,529 people in the area covered by the 2006 survey. There were 12 murders, 79 rapes, 395 robberies and 1853 aggravated assaults. There were 11,518 property crimes.

In 2006, the Florence metropolitan area was ranked as the fifth most dangerous metropolitan area in the country by the Morgan Quitno Press. It fell off of the list in 2007.


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See also


  2. Florence Business Climate
  3. Metro Economies Report from 2005
  4. [1],
  5. Florence Airport Stats
  6. Florence Downtown Revitalization
  7. Florence Development Projects

External links

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