Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Florence, SC

Florence SC

Originally founded as a hub for the major railroads, its location has attracted a number of manufacturing, financial and healthcare companies to Florence, SC.

Florence, SC is the state’s 10th-largest city and the county seat of Florence County. Founded in the mid-19th century as a hub of several major railroad systems, Florence became a major financial hotspot for the state and the region as a whole. While the railroad’s impact on the city has lessened in recent years, its location at the intersection of I-95 and I-20 has enabled Florence to attract a number of manufacturing, financial and healthcare companies to locate branches in the city. In addition, Florence’s entrepreneurial scene has begun to expand: the city ranked 466th on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business, with a rank of 156th in the “Access to Resources” category.

The city also appeared on Forbes’ 2019 list of the best small places for business and careers, finishing 175th overall and 53rd in the “Job Growth” category. And while the state of South Carolina is not typically considered one of the nation’s premier entrepreneurial states, it does have some positives; while the state was 38th overall in WalletHub’s list of the best and worst states to start a business, it was 15th in the “Business Costs” category. Additionally, the city ranked fourth in the “Startup Early Job Creation” category of the 2019 Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship, signifying a level of success for the startups that are launched in the state.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Florence’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The group helps local entrepreneurs make connections with one another to help them grow their businesses.

Traveling Entrepreneurs is a meetup group designed to help support entrepreneurs interesting in founding and owning their own business.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce hosts regular business-related events, including annual luncheons for business owners, educational workshops, and more.

The SC AgriBiz & Farm Expo is a large annual conference designed to celebrate and support the farming and agriculture industries throughout the state.

The Gould Business Incubator at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology hosts regular events to support area entrepreneurs, including an annual Entrepreneurship Day.


Startup Competitions:

Students at a handful of universities in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina can compete for $10,000 in cash prizes in the annual Pee Dee Idea Challenge.

Students and recent alumni of the University of South Carolina can compete in the school’s annual entrepreneurial competition that pays out over $50,000.

Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina, dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs, organizes an annual competition for high school students annually.


Co-working Spaces:

The Florence Business Technology Center is a large building full of office space available for rent, run by a company with locations across South Carolina and Ohio.

In addition to more in-depth incubation services, the Gould Business Incubator offers office space for local entrepreneurs.

Organized by the Kelley Center for Enterprise and Innovation at Francis Marion University, the North Dargan Innovation Center provides office space at low-cost rent.



Located down the road in Columbia, the Cola Makerspace is a community workshop that provides members with 24/7 access to its array of tools and equipment.

In addition to organizing incubation services, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology offers 3D printing and advanced machining services.



A program of the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology, the Gould Business incubator runs a variety of programs and resources to support entrepreneurship.

The Kelley Center at Florence’s Francis Marion University runs an incubator that will provide support to businesses for up to a year at a time.

The South Carolina Small Business Development Center runs business support services in multiple locations in SC.



The University of South Carolina/Columbia Technology Incubator runs several programs designed to incubate and accelerate tech startups in South Carolina.



Just down the road in Hartsville, Coker University’s Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship helps support entrepreneurial-minded students.

Francis Marion University offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in management as well as providing a number of entrepreneurial support resources.

The University of South Carolina in Columbia runs a variety of programs to support entrepreneurship among students, both in and out of the classroom.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Charleston Angel Partners looks to invest in companies located throughout the state as well as the entire Southeast United States.

Located in Charleston, Good Growth Capital is a majority women- and minority-owned venture capital firm that invests in early-stage science and technology startups in the southeast.

VentureSouth, a group made up of more than 300 investors located across the Southeast, is based just down the road from Florence in Greenville, SC.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Florence CEO, a news site that covers business news in Florence and the surrounding area, offers a daily newsletter containing headlines and briefings on the latest news.

SC Biz News offers a variety of newsletters, including several focusing on each region of the state and a pair of statewide newsletters.

SCNow, the Pee Dee region’s pre-eminent newspaper, offers a number of newsletters including one focused on business news in the region.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Florence not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.