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Municipal Association of South Carolina honors Florence with Achievement Award

City of Florence officials received the Achievement Awards for the Economic Development - Joseph P. Riley Jr Category during the 2022 Annual Meeting in Charleston.
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The City of Florence has received the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for its food, artisan and warehouse district. The city won in the economic development category of the Municipal Association’s Achievement Awards. Twenty-four cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives for consideration in the annual awards.   

Aiming to connect its revitalizing downtown with surrounding neighborhoods, Florence’s Food, Artisan and Warehouse District spurs new development in a struggling corridor, reduces food insecurity in the area, preserves the area’s historic warehouse architecture and promotes unique land uses not previously allowed.  

The overlay district, created to fulfill numerous comprehensive plan action items, has led to projects involving a wide array of partners. It bolstered access to healthy food in what has been a food desert, and now offers a downtown Save-A-Lot grocery store that’s operated by a local entrepreneur. The city developed its health and wellness campus in the area, which includes the Barnes Street Community Center and an inclusive playground. It also transformed a former warehouse into the City Center Market, a city-owned and operated farmers market facility with rentable commercial kitchen space for entrepreneurs scaling up their businesses. Development efforts in the district have led to the establishment of a locally-owned artisan sauce plant.   

The city invested $3.7 million of tax increment financing district funding for the City Center Market and improved infrastructure in the district. It contributed $625,000 in conditional grant funds for the grocery store, joining the Palmetto Housing Authority’s $1.8 million investment in the business. The store also received grants from Save-A-Lot and the SC Community Loan Fund.   

The city entered a conditional grant agreement with a private developer for a $65 million mixed-use investment in the district.   

“Innovative and multipronged economic development efforts, like this project in Florence, can greatly enhance South Carolina’s economic future. Florence is showing what is possible when a city has a vision, cares about its stakeholders, and finds ways to use every tool at its disposal,” said Todd Glover, executive director for the Municipal Association.  

These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association’s website (keyword: Achievement Awards).    

The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.