6 semi-finalists chosen for Downtown Florence business competition

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A new women’s athletic clothing store, children’s boutique, or flower and gift shop could soon open in Downtown Florence.

The Florence Downtown Development Corporation has just completed phase one of its competition aimed at recruiting new businesses to Florence.

In the Full Forward Downtown Business Contest, entrepreneurs submitted their business idea to the development cooperation. Of the submissions, which had to be entered by July 7, six finalists were chosen.

“We’ve narrowed down the group down to six,” explains Florence Downtown Retail Recruitment Consultant Bob Sager. “They are pretty much a wide range. One of them is an antique or gift type store. One of them is more of a flower gift type shop. There is one that is a lot of ladies better sportswear and casual sportswear.”

The six semi-finalists were chosen on the below criteria:

  • Length of time in your current business
  • Total years of experience as a business owner
  • Compatibility of enhancement of your proposed business to the current downtown retail mix
  • Current size of business and number of locations

Those six semi-finalists now must put together a business plan and have it ready for presentation by July 31. The winner will be chosen on the above criteria, as well as:

  • Evaluation of the business plan and presentation thereof to the FDDC-appointed selection committee by the applicant
  • Background and financial checks

Current business owners in Downtown Florence say they welcome the extra traffic and the overall growth of Florence.

“I love these places, because it’s bringing a different file or something that we always needed for downtown, more people from different parts of the city who come downtown for one thing for Florence,” says Ezra Brown, owner of Soule Café on S. Irby Street.

For business owners who missed the July 7 deadline for the competition, they can still apply for an Upfit grant worth $30,000. The Florence Downtown Development Corporation can offer details on how to apply for that grant.

The winning business will be selected August 7 and will receive the grand prize of $50,000 to help in opening the business.