Known for its history and Southern charm, Florence is the largest city in northeastern South Carolina. Originally chartered in 1871 and incorporated in 1890 as a railroad terminal, Florence is now a thriving community of 31,000 residents and serves as the county seat of Florence County.
The city, which spans 20 square miles, is approximately 100 miles north of Charleston, South Carolina, and about 70 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Atlantic Ocean is 60 miles from Florence.
With 18 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Florence offers its residents a choice of older homes along oak-lined Cherokee Road and Spanish moss-draped homes at the center of town. Population increases have spurred construction of new housing subdivisions as well. Furnished and unfurnished apartment communities, condominiums, duplexes, townhouses, patio homes, and retirement communities are also abundant in the city.
Florence is a major hub for companies in the biomedical and financial sectors. Other industries that employ a considerable part of the population are educational, health and social services, manufacturing and retail trade. The average salary for jobs in Florence is $29,611 and the median income of households is $35,388.
Major employers in Florence are Hoffmann-La Roche, IRIX Pharmaceuticals, GE Medical Systems, HealthSouth, McLeod Regional Medical Center, Carolinas Hospital System, ESAB, First Reliance Bank, Progress Energy, AT&T, Honda, ADP, Maytag, DuPont-Teijin Films, ACS Technologies and QVC.
Florence's medical sector includes two major hospital systems:
Regency Hospital, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) offices, and a Veterans Affairs Primary Health Care Center are also available.
Thanks to the city's Parks and Leisure Services Department, Florence is home to 16 neighborhood parks covering more than 600 acres. These include:
Together, these parks offer an extensive trail system, 27 ball fields, 24 tennis courts, 9 outdoor basketball courts, 10 playgrounds, 10 picnic shelters, a skate park, and 4 community center buildings.
Activities available to community residents include a variety of senior citizen's programs, after-school programs, and sports programs including football, baseball, softball, basketball, and tennis.
Shopping opportunities abound in Florence, which is home to a number of superstores, membership-oriented shopping clubs, malls, and national retailers, as well as smaller local shops. The Florence Flea Market and Pee Dee State Farmers' Market provide even more options.
The city's Magnolia Mall and Florence Mall, as well as its specialty shops and numerous car dealerships, serve Florence residents as well as people from nearby communities.
Cultural activities in Florence include a monthly Concerts In The Park series, a summer Jazz In The Park series, the Spirit of Florence July Fourth Celebration of Family, and the annual ArtsFest, a local celebration of arts and crafts.
The Florence Little Theatre, originally founded in 1923, presents an annual season of six musicals and plays, featuring casts of local actors. Other offerings include workshops for children and a youth production in the summer.
The Florence Symphony Orchestra is a volunteer orchestra that performs four times annually. Local, regional, and national guest musicians add to the orchestra's performances.
The Florence Museum of Art, Science, and History features art exhibits focusing on Pueblo pottery, Asian and archeological artifacts, and other visual arts. It also showcases science exhibits and exhibits of local history.
Francis Marion University is a fully accredited university near Florence. This state-supported, liberal arts college provides undergraduate degrees in business, education, laboratory sciences, social/behavioral sciences, and art. Graduate programs in education, business, and psychology are also offered.
Florence-Darlington Technical College offers its students more than 75 fields of study, including business, allied health, machining, welding, and nursing. In addition to the college's main campus in Florence, remote campus sites are located in Hartsville, Mullins, Lake City, and in downtown Florence (Health Sciences Campus). The college's Cosmetology Center, which is located just down the road from the main campus in Darlington County, also offers courses.
The Southern Professional Hockey League's Pee Dee Cyclones are Florence's local ice hockey team, and football fans cheer for the American Indoor Football League's Florence Phantoms.
Racing enthusiasts can take advantage of local Florence Motor Speedway or nearby Darlington Raceway, home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.
Because Florence was originally a railroad terminal, rail transportation continues to benefit the area. The city is home to a major switching yard for CSX Railroad, and direct rail service is available to the major seaports of Charleston, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina.
Florence is also easily accessible via car, thanks to its location at the intersection of I-95-the East Coast's most prominent north/south highway-and I-20, which begins in Florence and runs through Atlanta to the western part of the country. With U.S. Highways 52, 76, and 301 also intersecting in Florence, the city provides easy access to Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Chicago.
The newly expanded Florence Regional Airport provides daily commercial airline service to major hubs and regional airports.